From his first full season in the major leagues in 2007 up until 2012, if you were to rate Kelly Johnson‘s versatility from 1 to 10, you would have to give him a 1. He had appeared in 787 games defensively, each of them at second base. The only other position he saw time at was designated hitter, and even then, that was only 6 games. Johnson did a lot of things well, hitting for good power, showing some speed and plate discipline, and playing fine defense at his position, but versatility was not part of his game. And then Johnson came to Tampa Bay and everything changed.
In 18 games for the Rays, Johnson has now played 7 games in left field, 6 at DH, 4 at second base, and 1 at first base. In doing so, he has accomplished something that has never been done before in baseball history. He become the first player in the history of baseball who played at least 4 games at left field, DH, and second base in his first 20 games of the season and just the second to do it in under 30 games as well. To find a player that played at least 4 games at all those position and also played first base, you have to go all the way up to 50 games to find another player who did that. Which position will Johnson play primarily this season? That’s anybody’s guess. But what we do know for sure is that Kelly Johnson has gone from seemingly one of the least versatile to one of the most versatile, and the Rays will make full use of Johnson’s versatility as long as he is in Tampa Bay.