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Fantasy Versus Reality

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - This from the Sports Network news department -- The Houston Astros signed infielder Chris Johnson and catcher J.R. Towles to one-year contracts on Thursday. Both players will receive $424,000 for the upcoming season.

Interesting that they signed for the same amount because in the fantasy world, they are light years apart.

Towles, a light-hitting catcher, has likely never been on a fantasy roster seeing as how he's batted .137, .188 and .191 over his last three major league seasons. In 101 career big league games, Towles has a career batting average of .189 with eight homers and 39 RBI.

On the other hand, Johnson, a rookie, batted .308 with 11 HR and 52 RBI in 94 games after claiming the full-time starting third basemen's job in late June. He batted .414 in June, .359 in July and .306 in August before cooling at the end of the season. He figures to bat fifth or sixth in the Astros lineup in 2011.

Johnson is ranked as the 15th-best third baseman and has plenty of upside. Minor League Baseball Analyst said of him "muscular hitter who generates good bat speed through the strike zone enabling him to hit for moderate power." They added "feasts on weak pitching" and we know there is plenty of that at the major league level these days.

Based on last year's showing, Johnson should be a 20-HR, 80-RBI guy who can hit around .280-.300. While he may not be a starting third baseman, he can surely be used in a backup role or as a corner infielder.

In other words, Johnson (ADP 164) has fantasy value while Towles has none.

2010 Statistics for Johnson and Towles:
PlayerABRHHRRBISBAVGSLGOPS
Chris Johnson34140105115230.3080.4810.818
J.R. Towles47391800.1910.3190.554


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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