Chris Johnson and Eric Chavez look to give Arizona an offensive boost in 2013 from the third base position. (US Presswire: Matt Kartozian)
The under the radar trade last season that brought Johnson to the desert for two struggling prospects didn’t get a ton of publicity in the baseball circles, but Johnson made a splash immediately for the D’backs hitting a grand slam in his debut with the team against the Dodgers on July 30th. Johnson further excited Diamondback fans hitting five home runs and piling up 15 runs batted in in his first eight games. Johnson has shown his ability to hit for power and drive in runs in the first four years of his major league career amassing 33 home runs and 171 RBI in 1,229 at bats. He hits right-handed pitching considerably better than her does lefties with a .819 OPS against right-handed pitching versus .672 versus left-handed pitching. Johnson plays a capable third base and looks to share time at the hot corner with veteran addition Eric Chavez.
Chavez enjoyed his best season in the majors since 2006 in his 2012 resurgence with the Yankees. He hit .281 with 16 home runs and 37 runs batted in while playing a pivotal role for New York down the stretch. Chavez also sports a dependable glove and can more than hold his own at third base. Most of Chavez’s offensive production in 2012 came against right handed pitching as well hitting .298 versus righties.
Diamondbacks fans can likely expect to see Johnson get most, if not all, of the starts at third against left handed pitching in 2013. Look for Johnson and Chavez to likely split time against right-handed pitching and for manager Kirk Gibson to go with whomever happens to be the hot hand throughout the season. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Arizona to see these two combine to hit for 25-30 home runs, 90-100 runs batted in, and a respectable .280 or better average collectively from both sides of the plate. Whether it’s Johnson or Chavez at third base, expect the D’backs to get some significant run producing from that position in 2013.