Player Focus 6.23.08

Nick Johnson Could Be Done Until 2009
You’d have to be heartless not to feel at least a little sympathy for Washington Nationals’ first baseman Nick Johnson. Coming off of a career year in which he finally managed 500 at-bats (500 on the dot, in fact), he is staring another season-ending injury in the face. His talent has never been in question as evidenced by last year’s strong numbers across the board. I always wondered what he’d do with a full season given his excellent discipline, ability to hit for average and 20-25 HR power. Last year in those 500 at-bats he posted a .290/.428/.520 with 23 home runs, 77 runs batted in and 100 runs scored. He chipped in 10 steals for fun! He also walked 110 times against 99 strikeouts.

He was struggling a bit with the batting average early this year (.220), but still had a disgusting .415 on-base percentage (disgusting being awesome in this instance, of course) thanks to his tremendous batting eye and it’s not foolish to believe his average would’ve improved drastically as the season wore on. He hit the 15-day DL with a torn tendon in his right wrist on May 15th, which unfortunately didn’t surprise anyone. Now, reports are out that he will have surgery on that right wrist and it could (read: will) sideline him for the rest of the season.

He’s missed 46% of his team’s games since he became a full-time player in 2001. There is a lot of time between now and the 2009 fantasy drafts, but if you draft him with an expectation of more than 90-100 games, you’re only fooling yourself. From a fantasy perspective, Dmitri Young is going to enjoy the job security especially with a .929 OPS in June.

Felix Hernandez Hits Grand Slam; Gets Hurt
It had been 37 years since an American League pitcher has hit a grand slam until Seattle’s Felix Hernandez took Johan Santana (of all people) deep in Monday night’s game, but then he suffered a sprained ankle while making a play on Carlos Beltran at homeplate. As if the M’s weren’t enough of a disaster this season, now their only steady piece gets hurt. If he’s out for a period of time, they could just start shipping pieces left & right including Erik Bedard. Hell, they might do that even if he doesn’t miss a single start. Hernandez is finally putting it all together with a 2.87 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 103.3 innings prior to tonight’s start. He has struck out 7.9 and walked 3.3 batters per nine innings. He had suffered five straight losses prior to his current 4-game winning streak. Tonight he’ll grab a no-decision.

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