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Johnson continues to rake, but from eighth spot

ATLANTA -- With more than half the season complete, Chris Johnson leads the Braves in batting average and ranks second in on-base percentage. But his continued success has not persuaded manager Fredi Gonzalez to move him out of the eighth spot of his lineup.

"It's been good to have him there," Gonzalez said. "I've been tempted to move him up a couple times. But it seems like that hole comes up with people on base all the time, or at the very least you get the other manager thinking about whether you walk him."

Johnson has hit .330 with a .377 on-base percentage through his first 66 games this season. He has made at least one start in each of the bottom eight spots of the lineup. But he has been most productive in the eighth spot.

While batting eighth in 19 of his 59 starts, Johnson has hit .375 (24-for-64) with a 1.038 OPS. He has accounted for four of his six home runs and 11 of his 25 RBIs while positioned in this spot.

The seventh spot has been the second-most frequent spot Johnson has inhabited. In the 16 games he has filled that role, Johnson has hit .352 (19-for-59) with one home run and three RBIs.

"I really like [Johnson] there," Gonzalez said of the eight hole. "I think it's a position that sometimes gets neglected a little bit. He's a guy who has been able to produce some runs out of that spot."

Eric Single is an associate reporter for Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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