Nick Johnson (born September 19, 1978 in Sacramento, California) is a first baseman in Major League Baseball, currently with the Washington Nationals. He previously played with the New York Yankees between 2001 and 2003. Johnson is known for his patience at the plate and extreme discipline, leading to a high on base percentage. Johnson is also not a dead pull hitter, and can hit the ball to the opposite field with authority. In the first half of 2005, Johnson achieved a .320 batting average and a .444 on base percentage. His .444 OBP was second in the national league, trailing Derrek Lee.
He is the nephew of former Philadelphia Phillies manager Larry Bowa.
Nick had a terrific year - when healthy - in 2003 with the Yankees. He hit .284/.422/.472, which was good for a .318 EqA. While he didnâ€™t play from May 15th to July 25th because of a hand injury, he ranked 9th among first baseman in RARP - a derivative of EqA which is a counting stat. Only four of the hitters ahead of him - Carlos Delgado, Todd Helton, Jason Giambi and Jim Thome had a better EqA; the other four simply played more than Nick. While yet to be a truly great player, he'll have to stay on the field; he's among the better hitters even with his missed time. Expanding beyond his position, he would have tied with Edgar Martinez for the 17th best EqA in baseball. He was 24 for all but the last few weeks of the season.
After the 2003 season, the Yankees traded him, along with Juan Rivera and Randy Choate to the Montreal Expos for Javier Vazquez. Vazquez predictably struggled in the AL East; Rivera had a solid year and Choate was later traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for John Patterson. At its best, the trade would have been a wash for the Yankees, and at its worst would be, well, what has happened since: Nick has gotten over his mediocre 2004 and is hitting very well.
In 2004, his first, and, as it turned out, last season with the Montreal Expos, injuries struck again. He couldn't play until May 28th because of a back injury. He struggled after an initial wave of 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. This is good for a .262 EqA - barely above average for any hitter and well below average for a 1B. The back injury was another troubling sign regarding his fragility. The year was a big disappointment as far as his hitting was concerned, but the back injury had as much to do with that as anything.
2005: With the new Washington Nationals, Nick has continued doing what he did in 2003, and making 2004 look like a blip on the radar screen. He is hitting (as of August 6) .320/.437/.514, for a .327 EqA. He ranks third among 1B in EqA; 5th in RARP; 9th among all hitters in EqA. He has played three games since coming back from his latest injury: a bruised heel which kept him out from June 26 to July 26. He has batted cleanup for the majority of the season; despite the fact that he has a much higher OBP than Jose Guillen - the third place hitter on the team - and Guillen has more raw power.
A major part of his game, as illustrated by the amount of walks he gets, is seeing a lot of pitches which leads to the pitcher tiring. In 2003 he saw 4.28 pitches per plate appearance; he saw the same amount in '04; so far in '05 he's seen 4.16. In a typical year, the average P/PA will be in the mid to upper 3's.
Just before the 2006 began, Nick signed a 3 year, 16.5 million dollar extension, with a trade clause after the second year.