With five games left to play after Tuesday, Chris Johnson’s got some work to do if he’s going to win the National League batting title. Johnson trailed the Rockies’ Michael Cuddyer by seven points entering Tuesday night, when Johnson got a day of rest against the Brewers.
“The other guy is raking,” said Johnson, who was hitting .327 to Cuddyer’s .334. “I’ve got to do something big to get back in there.”
But Johnson hasn’t been lying awake at night, doing math either.
“That’s the thing, if it happens, it happens,” Johnson said. “If it doesn’t, I’m fine. We’re going to the playoffs; that’s all I care about.”
And if he ends up three points behind in the batting race?
“It’s still really cool,” said Johnson, who’s playing his first season both with the Braves, and in an everyday role. “Yeah if I don’t win it this year, next year I’m going to try to win it.”
Another thing that makes it cool, Johnson said, is the hitter he’s chasing. Johnson doesn’t know Cuddyer personally but has teammates like Brian McCann, who has played in All-Star games with him, and B.J. and Justin Upton, who grew up in the same part of Virginia as Cuddyer, who speak highly of him.
“From what I hear and talking to guys on the team, there’s not many better guys to lose to, if I do lose to him,” Johnson said. “He’s a great guy. He’s had a great career. He’s never done anything wrong. That’s the guy he’s never been involved in any kind of steroid issues and stuff like that. If you’re going to lose, you want to lose to those people. So that’s cool.”
Plus, Johnson said with a smile “he’s old.”
“Hopefully I got some more time,” said Johnson, who at 28 is six years younger than Cuddyer. “Hopefully I’ll get to where he’s at later in my career and win one too.”
Ironically enough, Johnson said Cuddyer is a hitter he studies on video all the time, trying to pattern his game after Cuddyer’s.
“He’s right-handed, he seems to hit the ball the other way kind of like I do, so I watch a lot of his swings,” Johnson said. “I love his swing so much. I wish it wasn’t so good right now…
“It’s weird, it’s strange that he’s beating me. Maybe I should have watched somebody else. It’s not over but if he wins it, good for him.”
And for the record, Johnson has no problem with the fact that Cuddyer plays half his games at Coors Field.
“I don’t make any excuses about that,” Johnson said. “I just feel like that’s a copout a little bit. If he wins, he wins. He got hits. I play here, which is a bigger hitter’s park, but it’s got bigger gaps. There’s a lot more outfield to work with. So I get more hits that way too. I feel like it evens out.”
The Braves haven’t been able to acquire the ace they might have wanted for the top of their rotation, but they secured the depth they needed Monday with the signing of free agent right-hander Gavin Floyd.
One week after the Braves were eliminated by the Dodgers in a four-game division series, Braves general manager Frank Wren met with the team’s beat writers and discussed the 2013 season and the team’s needs going into the offseason.