Three years before coming to Atlanta, Deron Johnson slugged 32 homers and drove in 130 for the Reds. Three years after leaving the ATL, Johnson, then with the Phils, clubbed 34 HR.
Johnson hit a punchless .208 in 1968, his only season as a Brave. He supplied none of the power expected from a 1B, finishing the year with 8 HR, 33 RBI and a .600 OPS — Sonny Jackson territory. At the opposite corner Clete Boyer was even worse (.586 OPS). The Hammer led the team that year with 29 HR and 86 RBI; Felipe Alou was the runner-up in both categories, with 11 and 57, respectively.
Some Launching Pad.
Obviously it took some doing to be the worst hitter on the ’68 club, but Johnson took the lead early and never looked back. Through May he had but 14 hits — 2 HR, 2 doubles — in 97 AB. He was just as crappy in September, hitting .176.
Johnson was consistently abysmal vs. right-handed pitchers — .179 BA, .536 OPS — and at Fulco, where he hit .166. He was sold to the Phils in December 1968 and hit 78 HR over the next three years.
Reggie Sanders’ career followed a similar pattern before and after his one year in Atlanta, but Johnson, the original, did it better, er, worse.