04 May 2011
After an excellent offensive year in 2010, hitting .284/.370/.496 with 26 HR, Kelly Johnson has really struggled through the first month of the 2011 season. Through 28 Games, Johnson is only hitting .173/.259/.308, and has struck out a team leading 33 times. He has struggled against RHP (.197), and has been even worse against LHP, going just 3 for 28 (.107). This has led to Johnson sitting against the last two left-handed starters while red-hot Ryan Roberts has played 2B. Let's take a closer look at Johnson's results so far in 2011.
At this point in the year, almost everything is going wrong for Johnson. His line drive rate has dropped from a career percentage of 21% down to 11.3%.
Line Drive Rate
2008 - 24.7%
2009 - 17.9%
2010 - 20.5%
2011 - 11.3%
Despite a decent number of walks in 2011, he has been chasing more and more pitches out of the strike zone.
Out of Strike Zone Swing Rate
2008 - 25.6%
2009 - 23.8%
2010 - 29.0%
2011 - 33.3%
When he does chase these pitches out of the zone, he has been making contact more often than in the past, but that might be a reason for the high number of weakly hit balls this year.
Out of Strike Zone Contact Rate
2008 - 59.1%
2009 - 59.1%
2010 - 58.5%
2011 - 65.2%
Pitchers seem to be taking advantage of this, as Johnson is already seeing fewer pitches in the Strike Zone.
Pitches Thrown in the Strike Zone
2008 - 50.2%
2009 - 48.5%
2010 - 48.5%
2011 - 41.1%
Worst of all, when Johnson has swung at pitches in the strike zone, he's making contact much less often that in the past.
Strike Zone Contact Rate
2008 - 88.9%
2009 - 93.9%
2010 - 86.9%
2011 - 79.1%
That In-Zone contact rate of 79.1% is the fifth worst in the National League.
Things have gone so poorly for Johnson that even when he's ahead in the count, he still hasn't been able to take advantage of the situation.
After a 1-0 Count (51 PA): .087/.176/.130
After a 2-0 Count (22 PA): .118/.318/.176
Kelly Johnson had a poor season in 2009, but in 2011 his numbers are much worse than two years ago. In almost every split (Home, Road, vs LHP, vs RHP, Day, Night), his stats are at a career worst. The obvious problem is that he's chasing too many pitches out of the strike zone, and as a result, pitchers are throwing him fewer good pitches to hit. Can he turn things around? He probably can, but he hasn't shown any signs of it recently. Over the last 10 games, Johnson has hit only 4 for 32 (.125) with 10Ks. After the next two home games against Colorado, the Diamondbacks head to the road to face San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles - three tough places for a batter to find his swing.