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Steve Johnson? Really?

Sep 24, 2012, 7:18 PM EDT

Steve Johnson AP

Until a couple of months ago, Orioles farmhand Steve Johnson was best known for being the son of former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson. If he was known at all. It’s not like the baseball world was waiting with bated breath for the offspring of Dave Johnson to come and save the game. Dave Johnson’s claim to fame was that he led the AL in homers allowed in his one full season in the rotation (he ended his career in 1993 with a 22-25 record and a 5.11 ERA).

Now, back to Steve. Ignoring two emergency starts Johnson made in Double-A at the tender age of 18 in 2006, here’s how Steve has done in his intro to every level of baseball.

2005 Rookie ball: 0-2, 9.53 ERA in 11 1/3 IP
2006 Rookie adv: 5-5, 3.89 ERA in 78 2/3 IP
2007 Low-A ball: 3-6, 4.85 ERA in 81 2/3 IP
2008 High-A ball: 3-6, 7.10 ERA in 52 IP
2009 Double-A: 3-2, 2.84 ERA in 38 IP
2011 Triple-A: 2-7, 5.56 ERA in 87 1/3 IP
2012 Majors: 4-0, 1.62 ERA in 33 1/3 IP

Now, how exactly does one explain that? Johnson got the call for Baltimore in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader and shut out the Jays for five innings to pick up a victory. He’s won all three of his starts, striking out 22 in 16 innings in the process. Including his eight relief appearances, he’s fanned 43 batters in 33 1/3 innings.

Which is pretty awesome. Particularly from a guy who was a .500 pitcher and had a 4.17 career ERA in eight minor league seasons.

  1. syracuse451 - Sep 24, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    Seems really easy to explain actually: He has faced SEA, TOR, and TOR in his three starts, his BABIP is .229, his strand rate is 94%, and the Orioles have averaged 7 runs in his three starts. Nothing particularly crazy here, just random statistical variance.

    • moogro - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      No need to mention the run support. The gist was his 1.62 ERA.

  2. yankeesgameday - Sep 24, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    no, you explain it because Seattle and Toronto field triple A level line ups so he hasn’t actually made the jump to facing higher tier talent yet. the kid’s still in the minors.

    • Francisco (FC) - Sep 24, 2012 at 9:53 PM

      That doesn’t make sense since he was being KILLED by AAA hitting before his callup

  3. takingbovadasmoney - Sep 24, 2012 at 8:13 PM


  4. takingbovadasmoney - Sep 24, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    @Syracuse….how do explain is league leading BAWHIPAR statistical reference x the ERABIP differential divided by his r√vielding%?

    • thenoblefacehumper - Sep 24, 2012 at 9:27 PM

      None of the stats he cited were complex enough to make this stupid joke.

    • wlschneider09 - Sep 24, 2012 at 10:29 PM

      HBT commandment #12: Thou shalt not mock the sabermetrics.

  5. scatterbrian - Sep 24, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    I’ll agree this is pretty awesome, but minor league winning percentage is a really poor gauge of future success.

  6. husky2score - Sep 24, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    This kid has some potential. If you watch him pitch closely, he closes his eyes when he delivers!! Quite incredible and he is one of the small pieces of this teams success this year.

  7. Glenn - Sep 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    The Orioles are one of the luckiest teams in recent memory, so why not Steve Johnson. This team is riding an unbelievable wave. Don’t bet on them in the future though.

    • atworkident - Sep 25, 2012 at 7:59 AM

      Right… because there is no chance they’ll make the playoffs.

    • nolanwiffle - Sep 25, 2012 at 8:23 AM

      Can a team really “luck” its way to 90 wins?

  8. burgandyandgold - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Not luck – charmed. Every team that was a doormat for years has these breakthrough years when they surprise everyone. But the O’s have been gathering talent for a long time and it is finally coming together. I fully expect them to be in the hunt in 2013 as well. That said, they really need to win the division because they do not match up at all with the Texas Rangers.

  9. Panda Claus - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    Explain it this way–Orioles’ Magic. This and the fact Buck likes to put his guys in position to succeed.

    Steve made his ML debut this year in August, 23 years to the day his dad also made his debut with the Orioles during their 1989 “Why Not?” season. There’s got to be some karma in that.

  10. randomdigits - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Great story but the cries from the Orioles faithful for this kid to become a permanent member of the rotation is getting annoying.

    Good on you Steve, but at best you will be in the Pen next season.

  11. theSC1320 - Sep 25, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Three likely scenario’s:

    1: He’s been working with the coaches on my fantasy team since his call up and is actually driven to help my team take home the a title more than the O’s. (even though the O’s gig he has pays slightly better.)

    2:The picture says it all. He is the true manifestation of Oriole Pitchers of old, here to become the shining light in the darkness that will take them to the playoffs.

    3: In the minors he was always “working on his game,” at this level and right now, “it’s game on,” and he’s surrounded and supported by the Orioles rather than minor leaguers. He’s stepped right into the flow of juju the Orioles are riding and fitting into his niche nicely. (I’m sure that the coaching staff picking his match-ups for him helps. Like a guy hitting .350 as a platoon hitter, you can’t just extrapolate the data to equal a full season without compensating for the bad situations he’s not hitting in..)

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