Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
Kelly Johnson stepped to the plate in the 10th inning on April 28 in Colorado, the D-backs tied up 11-11 with the Colorado Rockies. He was 0-for his last 11, and hitless in that series. Still, Johnson had been scorching hot all month and even with a power lefty on the mound in the person of Franklin Morales, the Rockies had to be at least a bit concerned.
Johnson showed everyone why as he launched a go-ahead (and game-winning as it proved to be) home run to deep right-center field. His one hit in the series was the biggest hit in the series.
Johnson finished the month of April batting .313 with a .404 on-base percentage, a .750 slugging percentage, nine home runs, eight doubles, 18 RBI, 17 runs, 13 walks.
Johnson was named the National League Player of the Month for April on Monday.
“Regardless of joining a team or not,” Johnson said, “you just want to start the season well.”
While Johnson has had other great month-long stretches in his career, he had never hit more than five home runs in a month at any point in his career until this season.
“I’ve never had (a month) like that,” he said. “I’ve driven in runs like that and hit for a high average, but not the home runs.”
Johnson finished the month leading the National League in home runs.
“If they go out or whatever, that’s cool, but I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I just want to keep getting pitches to hit, that’s all I care about.”
This was the fifth time a D-backs player has been named Player of the Month. The previous winners were:
Matt Williams — April 1999
.357 AVG, 8 HR, 25 RBI
Luis Gonzalez — April 2001
.315 AVG, 26 R, 13 HR, .804 SLG
13 HR set N.L. record and tied MLB record for April
Luis Gonzalez — June 2001
.417 AVG, 26 R, 7 2B, 12 HR,
35 RBI, 86 TB, .835 SLG
Justin Upton — May 2009
.373 AVG, 7 HR, 21 RBI
Colorado starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who threw a no-hitter against Atlanta on April 17, was the NL Pitcher of the Month. D-backs pitchers have won that particular award nine times, most recently Dan Haren in May 2008.