Fan Favorites By The Numbers: Reed Johnson

Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

The next entry in the Fan Favorites series looks at a more recently revered role player.

Reed Johnson.

The name evokes thoughts of reckless abandon leading to diving catches and reckless judgement leading to his facial hair.

RJ was an academic All-American at baseball power Cal State Fullerton, leading to being selected in the 17th round of the 1999 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He debuted for Toronto in 2003 and has played parts of 11 MLB seasons (he's still a FA, hoping to catch on for another year). He played for the Cubs in two different stints ('08-'09, '11-'12).

My thought is Reed was a popular Cub for his ties to the last very good Cubs' team, the 2008 club that paced the National League with 97 wins (we shall not speak of the playoffs -- Reed didn't get an at-bat). Reed played great in a platoon role that season, putting up a .303/.358/.420 slash line.

As a Cub, Johnson hit 18 HRs and drove in 116 runs in 1009 at-bats over 361 games.

Reed was (is, really) a scrappy hustler who gets the most out of his abilities. So how does he stack up, sabermetrically (still a word!)?

Johnson put up 1.4 WAR in that 2008 season, but slipped to just 0.2 WAR in an injury-shortened 2009. In his second tour as a Cub, he was worth an even more efficient 1.2 WAR (less raw value than '08, but 266 plate appearances compared to 374) in 2011 and then nearly 1 WAR in just 186 PAs in 2012 before being dealt to the Atlanta Braves. His wRC+ was safely over 100 in three of his four seasons as a Cub.

Nobody would confuse Reed Johnson with a "star" player. But, it turns out RJ provided grit, energy, and solid value during his time with the Cubs. To win, a club needs some players to put up bigger WAR numbers. But it's always nice when your role players can provide above average performances at a good value.

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