If you look at the Athletics franchise career leaders in OPS and OPS+, you'll find a bunch of Hall-of-Famers (Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson), a few Hall-of-Juicers (Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi), a couple of classic baseball names (Matt Stairs, Gene Tenace), and...Bob Johnson.
Bob Johnson is largely forgotten in Athletics lore. His name appears in the top ten of nearly every batting category in franchise history, so being forgotten hardly seems a fair fate. He played 10 years with the A's, averaging 25 homers and 104 RBI. His career rate stats were .296/.393/.506. So why is he forgotten?
Part of it is that he started late; he was 27 years old in his rookie season, and he never accumulated the kind of career totals that would make him a Hall-of-Fame candidate.
But I think a lot of the reason is because his name was "Bob Johnson". Johnson had a nickname, "Indian Bob", from his 1/4 Native American lineage. But that's not the kind of nickname we repeat in these days of political correctness. So he remains "Bob Johnson", a name that could not be better chosen to blend into the background and fade from attention.
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Daric Barton made his major league debut this week, and has impressed mightily. So far, he's hitting .353/.450/.471. Those numbers are positively Bob Johnsonesque! Barton's debut is probably the second-most exciting thing to happen to the team all year. The kid can hit. Dan Johnson's days as Oakland's first baseman are numbered.
And yet, Dan Johnson is the source of the most exciting thing I've heard all year: he got a nickname. Dan Johnson has one of the few names that could possibly surpass Bob Johnson in forgettability. In ten, fifteen years, will anyone remember Dan Johnson and his brief tenure in Oakland? Certainly not, especially if we keep calling him "Dan Johnson".
But now there's this: apparently, Marco Scutaro was recently making fun of Johnson for the way he was chasing down a popup in Oakland's large foul territory, saying he ran after it like a crab. A nickname was born: Dan "Crab-Man" Johnson.
I hereby declare a new law: Dan Johnson shall be henceforth be called "Crab-Man Johnson" in all forms of conversation. Anyone who fails to use the nickname shall receive a $100 fine. All in favor, say aye!
Dan Johnson was just passing through, a forgettable face in the crowd, in a forgettable year for the franchise. But Crab-Man Johnson is a classic baseball name that will likely live forever. It leaves a smile on my face. This season shall not have been in vain.