If you look around the web for information about Dan Johnson, most of what you find is about him as a Tampa Bay Ray. What I’d like to do here is provide some background on one of the best ballplayers ever to play for the Durham Bulls.
Mr. Johnson played two nearly full seasons with the Bulls, 2008 and 2010. He spent 2009 playing in Japan. In both of his seasons with the Bulls he was called up to the Rays near the end and managed to get some timely hits for them. However, this year he is having a very rough time and was just passed through waivers. Fortunately for the Bulls, he accepted an assignment here. Whether there’s something wrong or he just cannot adjust to the Rays’ peculiar platooning approach I can’t tell. What I can tell, or point to, is that he was a superstar for the Bulls in 2008 and 2010. Maybe, just maybe, he can do it again.
Dan played in 113 games, hit 25 home runs, had 83 RBIs, and a slash line (BA/OBP/SLG) of .307/.424/.556. Only Chris Richard had more home runs (26) or RBIs (88). He played 29 games at 1B, 10 games at 3B, and 8 games in left field. Thus, almost half of the time he was the DH. At first and third base he committed a total of 4 errors for a .992 rate at 1B and a .933 at 3B. (Note: for old-timers, 2008 was the year of Joel Guzman at 3B (90 games).
Dan played in 98 games in 2010 and he put up some amazing stats before being called up. A slash line of .303/.430/.624 (that’s an OPS of 1.053 on 98 games!). He hit 30 home runs and had 95 RBIs before he was called up. What may be as important for the 2011 Durham Bulls, however, are his fielding stats. In 2010 he played a lot of 3B (36 games), some left field (22 games) and less 1B (14 games). However, he only had one error at 3B (this year’s crew has had 6 so far) and none at 1B (the 2011 crew has had 6). My memory of DJ at third is of someone who, if he got to the ball, made the play. Plus, he just knows the position(s) very well.
Dan Johnson was the International League’s Most Valuable Player for 2010 and the International League All-Star at third base. The Bulls won the South Division championship both years, but could not get through the Governors' Cup without him.
Am I happy to have Dan Johnson back in Bulls uniform? You bet I am. I wish he’d done better with the Rays this year, because I think that he’s a much better ball player than this year’s stats show. In the meantime, welcome back!