In 2011 for the Tampa Bay Rays, Dan Johnson hit 2 home runs and drove in 4. On April 8th, the Rays were 0-6 before Johnson came up with a go-ahead 3-run homer as the Rays came back from a 7-4 deficit against the White Sox in the 9th to win 9-7. Then on September 28th, one year ago today, Johnson stepped up to the plate as the tying run in the game with 2 outs in the 9th and somehow came through with a game-tying solo home run 3 innings before Evan Longoria‘s walk-off blast sent the Rays to the postseason. On the season, Dan Johnson hit just .119 in 91 major league plate appearances. Entering the season, the Rays thought Johnson would be their everyday first baseman. He finished with just 10 major league hits on the year. But two of them, especially the last one, could not have been any more clutch.
It doesn’t make any sense. For his career, Dan Johnson has a .230/.321/.382 line (.703 OPS) in low leverage situations and just a .213/.319/.369 line (.687 OPS) in medium leverage situations. In high leverage situations, Johnson has a .286/.392/.514 line (.907 OPS)! How is that even possible? We’re not talking such a small sample here- Johnson has 1541 big league plate appearances. He just has the innate ability to come through when it matters most. Why couldn’t he ever do it when the stakes weren’t at their highest? There’s no answer to be found. All we can do is appreciate everything Johnson gave the Rays and continue to be mystified by the magic of Game 162.