Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dan Johnson Won't Be Back

DJ at Bat, 2010
Dan Johnson won’t be coming back to the Durham Bulls next year. When the Rays "outrighted" him to the Bulls a few days ago, he turned it down. He is now a free agent with no ties to the Rays at all. 

All of the commentary is about his several shining moments with the Rays. The best of these columns is by Bradley Woodrum over at SB Nation.

My interest is in what he did as a Durham Bull. We are going to miss him, a lot. He made major contributions to the Bulls in all of the three seasons he played here (2008, 2010, and 2011) and he had a lot to do with the Bulls winning the South Division of the International League in each of those years.

DJ After Home Run, July 2010

Every year he was with us we expected him to be called up. Every year he was. Every year he did something heroic for the Rays. But as Bulls fans we were interested in day-to-day performance and we were rarely disappointed.

We saw him mostly at first base and in the DH position. But he put in 61 games at third base and always surprised me with the strength of his arm and the intelligence of his play. He was a good first baseman in a time when the Bulls were blessed with two very good hitters at first (Chris Richard being the other one).

His numbers were simply extraordinary. How does this sound? In his three seasons:

304 Games — 68 Home Runs — 230 RBI 

Looking back, here's what we said (in 2010) about his 2008 season:
But what Bulls fans remember about 2008 was his stellar year with us. He played in 113 games; hit 25 home runs, 83 RBIs, and a batting line of .307/.424/.980. Dan was our player of the year for 2008. For a really hard core Bulls fan, as much as we admire his heroics for the Rays that Fall, we have this wistful feeling that maybe the Governors’ Cup would have been ours if he’d stayed with the Bulls through all of the playoffs.
Dan Johnson, Joe Dillon, Jose Lobaton after Lobaton Home Run July 5, 2010

Of course, 2010 was DJ's great year as a Durham Bull. Here's what we said at the end of 2010:

Dan Johnson was our superstar this year. His home run and RBI pace was extraordinary and he collected a whole bunch of AAA awards even though he didn’t even play the last month of the season. It is a bit puzzling that the Rays did not notice that for the last two years he was mostly a third baseman, not a first baseman. This year he only made one error in 36 games at third. We were also more that a little surprised that he wasn’t traded off during the year, but that could easily just mean that we don’t really understand the business of baseball very well. We are having great fun watching him play for the Rays and have high hopes he will go to the postseason with them.
And if 2011 was a mild disappointment compared to 2010, surely Dan was even more disappointed. After all, he'd expected to spend the whole year with the Rays. Nevertheless, he did a pretty darned good job for the Bulls. Here's what we said at the end of the season.

Played in 93 games (395 PA). Starting very slowly, his numbers improved as the year went on — .273/.382/.459,wOBA .375. Low extra base production (for him) of 23 doubles and 13 home runs. 52 RBI. 59 games at 1B, 15 at 3B, and 21 as DH.
What I'd like to wrap up with is just a little bit of balance. I'm a Durham Bulls fan and Dan Johnson has been a great Durham Bulls baseball player. For three seasons I've gone to the park and Dan's been on the field and has given me a bunch of thrills and won a bunch of games for us.
Thank You!

Best of luck in 2012!

Dan Johnson, June, 2011

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