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Nicholas Robert Johnson (born September 19, 1978, in Sacramento, California) is a first baseman and designated hitter in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees.

He previously played with the New York Yankees from 2001 to 2003, and with the Montreal Expos in 2004. Johnson is known for his patience and discipline at the plate, which have led to a high career on-base percentage of .402 through the 2009 season.[1] Lifetime, with the bases loaded he has a .385 batting average and a .468 obp, with 39 RBIs in 39 at bats through 2009. Johnson was the last remaining player on the Nationals roster to relocate with the team from Montreal, before being traded to the Marlins.


He is the nephew of Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa. Johnson and his wife, Liz, had their first child, Brianna, on January 31, 2006.[2]

He graduated from C. K. McClatchy High School, which Bowa also attended.

Minor league career[]

Johnson was drafted by the Yankees in the third round (89th overall) of the 1996 Major League Baseball Draft.

In 1998, he batted .317/.466/.538 with 17 home runs in 303 at bats for the Tampa Yankees. In 1999, he was an All-Star for the Norwich Navigators, and batted .345/.525/.548 with 37 HBP and 123 walks in 420 official at bats.

He participated in the 1999 and 2001 Futures Games during All-Star Weekend, playing for the United States team.

Johnson has a .446 lifetime minor league OBP.[3]

Major League career[]

New York Yankees[]

In 2002 Johnson was 7th in the AL in hit by pitch (12), in just 378 at bats with the Yankees.

Johnson hit .284/.422/.472 with the Yankees in 2003. From May 15 to July 25, Johnson was on the disabled list due to a stress fracture in his right hand.[4] During this time, he ranked ninth among first baseman in Runs Above Replacement, position-adjusted (RARP)—a Sabermetric statistic.[citation needed] Only 4 of the hitters ahead of him—Carlos Delgado, Todd Helton, Jason Giambi, and Jim Thome—had a better EqA, and the other four played more than Johnson. Expanding beyond his position, he would have tied with Edgar Martínez for the 17th-best EqA in baseball.[citation needed]

After the 2003 season, the Yanks traded him, along with Juan Rivera and Randy Choate, to the Montreal Expos for Javier Vazquez.

Montreal Expos / Washington Nationals[]

File:3RD 8415 Nick Johnson.jpg

Johnson with the Washington Nationals in March 2009.

In 2004, his first and last season with the Montreal Expos, because of their relocation to Washington at the end of the season, injuries struck again. He could not play until May 28 because of a back injury, and struggled after initial success. By the time his season was ended by a ball hit to first that took a bad hop and broke his cheekbone, he was down to a .251/.359/.398 line. The back injury was another troubling sign regarding his fragility; in addition, the year was a disappointment as far as his hitting was concerned.

In 2005, with the new Washington Nationals, Johnson compiled a performance more reminiscent of his 2003 season than of his injury-riddled 2004 campaign. He hit .289/.408 (sixth-best in the league)/.479, and had a .478 OBP with runners in scoring position. Johnson batted cleanup for most of the season, despite the fact that he had a much higher OBP than the third-place hitter on the team—Jose Guillen.

Just before the 2006 season began, Johnson signed a three-year, $16.5 million extension, with a trade clause after the second year. In 2006, Johnson hit .290/.428/.520, in his best year thus far. The .428 OBP was the 4th-highest in the league. He was second in the NL in walk percentage 18.0%),[5] third in walks (110), seventh in doubles (46) and intentional walks (15), and tenth in times hit by pitch (13). He had a .454 OBP with runners in scoring position. Johnson had his worst season to date in the field, however, with 15 errors. On September 23, 2006, playing against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, Johnson and right fielder Austin Kearns collided while attempting to catch a fly ball. Johnson sustained a broken femur and underwent surgery that night to repair the injury.[6] He missed the entire 2007 season, though he still earned $5.5 million.[3]

Returning from his broken leg, Johnson played in the National's spring training games in 2008.[7] Though he was off to a rocky start, he regained his form and competed with Dmitri Young, his replacement while injured and the 2007 recipient of the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, for the role of starting first baseman.

Johnson opened the 2008 season as the starting first baseman over Young.[8] On March 30, 2008, Johnson knocked in the first RBI in the new baseball stadium for the Nationals. However, soon after, he sustained a tear in a ligament on the ulnar side of his wrist, and missed the rest of the 2008 season.

There were rumors he may be traded before the 2009 season;[9] however, he opened the season as the starting first baseman.

With Johnson's trade the Nationals franchise no longer had any player on the roster who made the Montreal/Washington crossover in 2005, although that changed again shortly after when Livan Hernandez was reacquired.

Florida Marlins[]

File:7TH Nick Johnson.jpg

Johnson playing for the Florida Marlins in August 2009.

On July 31, 2009, he was traded from the Washington Nationals to the Florida Marlins for minor league pitcher Aaron Thompson.[10]

In 2009 he walked 17.8% of the time, the highest percentage in the major leagues.[11] His .426 on base percentage was second-best in the league to Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols.

Return to New York[]

On December 23, 2009, Johnson signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract to return to the Yankees.[12] On May 8, Johnson was placed on the DL with a wrist injury.


  • 1996 – 2nd-team High School All-American; 1B
  • 1999 – Double-A All-Star 1B
  • 1999 – NY Yankees Minor League Player of the Year
  • 1999 – Eastern League All-Star 1B
  • 2002 – Topps All-Star rookie team


External links[]

Template:Commons category

Preceded by:
Craig Wilson
Topps Rookie All-Star First Baseman
Succeeded by:
Mark Teixeira