As good as he was, I think Johnson could put up similar numbers again. Last season he went 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA, a 1.019 WHIP and .220 batting average against. Johnson finished seventh in the American League Cy Young vote, 14th in the American League Most Valuable Player voting and led all of Major Lague Baseball in saves.
But the year before, Johnson was nearly as good with an ERA of 2.67, a WHIP of 1.110 and a .238 batting average against. The numbers were very close. The big difference was in the saves. Last season was Johnson’s first as full-time closer and he was 51-for-54 for a 94.4 percent success rate.
Since Johnson hasn’t been a full-time closer for two straight years, we don’t have a track record of him doing it. But I don’t see any reason he can’t have another big year in saves. What we don’t know is if he’ll get as many chances again to post 51 saves.
Johnson began last year with 17 saves before his first blown save. He then got nine more before blown save No. 2, four more before blown save No. 3 and then ended the regular season with 21 straight saves.
With the Orioles pushing for the playoffs late in the year, Johnson went 19-for-19 in save chances with an ERA of 0.39 in August and September. He went 30-for-31 in road games.
Against AL East opponents, Johnson was 2-0 with an ERA of 0.80, 20 saves in 21 chances and an OPS against of just .419. That is very strong stuff.
Some thought he may have tired in the playoffs against New York, when he suffered a blown save and a loss. But he threw 91 innings in 2011 and just 68 2/3 innings last year.
Last season, Johnson was simply one of the best late-inning relievers in baseball and I don’t see any reason he can’t be that again.
What are your thoughts on Johnson for 2013?
While you are at it, did anyone get any Orioles-related gifts? Feel free to share what you got with us.