The two most surprising storylines of the Astros 2010 season have got to be Brett Myers and Chris Johnson. Myers for his homerun limiting, workhorse excellence, and Johnson for, well, being good. Myers is engigmatic from a statistical standpoint, but his body of work is such that drawing distinctions between this year and his career offer substantial insights. Johnson, however, amassed a grand total of 23 MLB PAs prior to this year. There has been no greater nightmare for me than Johnson flirting with .400 BABIP because he has no meaningful body of work from which apples to apples comparisons can be drawn (reminder: BABIPs typically range from .290-.310 unless you're incredibly fast or incredibly lucky/unlucky).
Johnson's minor league career has produced seasons during which he posted abnormally high BABIPs. However, his previous two career highs of .363 (2008 at AA) and .334 (2009 at AAA) in no way suggest that Johnson profiles as the kind of hitter who could carry an abnormally high BABIP through an entire MLB season. Players, typically, don't suddenly get better once they go from facing good competition to great competition.
Regardless of those statistical insights, Johnson continues to collect hits. Even if I group his BRef gamelog into a random sets of fifteen or twenty games to find a slump, I struggle. The best I could do was a stretch of twenty games where he hit .250/.282/.338 yet still posted a .334 BABIP during that time.
What on God's green earth are we supposed to make of this? My skillset doesn't give me a whole lot to work with here. Johnson hasn't given us another apple by which to compare his 2010 apple. Instead, we have the orange that is his minor league body of work, and that just won't get us as far as we need to go.
The longer I have spilled electronic ink on these electronic pages the more I have learned this: In times when I can't find an answer that satisfies the objective part of my brain, the collective wisdom of the TCB community can generally supply something that comes closest to resembling the truth. So, that's what I will ask of you before college football takes over your life today.
**I must credit Joe Pawlikowski for coining the phrase BABIP-fueled whilst describing Chris Johsnon's 2010 season. It is the perfect blend of both diplomacy and incredulity.**