2011 Marlins Season Review: Josh Johnson, the Injured

The 2011 Marlins Season Review rolls on as we pass by the position players and move on to the team's pitching staff. The Marlins boasted a variety of starting pitchers last year, though only a few were good enough to survive the season. One of those pitchers that did not last the year was Josh Johnson, though his situation was not one of poor play. Rather, Johnson only appeared in nine starts in 2011 because of a shoulder injury that begun as only mild inflammation but eventually ended his season.

GS IP K% BB% ERA FIP fWAR rWAR
Josh Johnson 9 60 1/3 23.9 8.6 1.64 2.64 1.7 2.5

The Good

The nine starts that Johnson did make last season were certainly impressive. His 1.64 ERA and impressive 2.64 FIP put him among the league leaders through the early part of the season. In nine starts, he managed to put up as many Wins Above Replacement as full seasons from starters like Max Scherzer, Colby Lewis, Charlie Morton, Bud Norris, Livan Hernandez, and Chris Capuano. That is a pretty impressive feat given that he threw in about one-third of their innings at most.

Johnson's strikeout and walk rates were in line with his career rates (22.3 and 8.1 percent respectively), and he continued his streak of allowing an oddly low number of home runs through those starts. For all intents and purposes, it seemed the Marlins were on their way to having a normal Johnson season; if you prorate his 2011 FanGraphs WAR (fWAR) to a 200-inning season, you would get a value of 5.6 fWAR, which is very similar to his 2009 and 2010 seasons.

The Bad

Unfortunately, the Marlins never got that full season because of the shoulder injury. Much has been said about it, but the full details of the injury remain fairly nebulous. It began initially as mild shoulder inflammation that had him miss two starts before going on the 15-day DL. It then evolved into a 60-day DL stint despite not changing from the initial inflammation diagnosis. Midway into the season, Johnson visited Dr. James Andrews and was given the same diagnosis but told that there was no structural damage in his shoulder.

As of right now, there is not much in the way of information other than that on Johnson's shoulder. He was removed from the 60-day DL before the season ended on September 26, and prior to that there was talk about Johnson making a few starts before the close of the regular season. While that would have been unnecessary, the fact that the team was able to entertain these ideas is good enough to say that Johnson should be healthy for Spring Training in 2012.

The brevity of this review says nothing about how much of an impact the Marlins felt with Johnson missing. Prior to the season starting, Baseball Prospectus projected Johnson to post a 5.8-win campaign; this means that the Marlins lost approximately four wins above replacement by running scrub starters such as Brad Hand and Clay Hensley for 21 starts. While those four wins were not going to make the Marlins a playoff team, they would have certainly made Marlins fans feel better about their chances at a healthy Johnson campaign in 2012.

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