Sunday, June 19, 2011

Johnny Damon - Hall of Fame Player?

Maybe this can be chalked up to either a statistical anomaly or an an example of lies, damn lies and statistics but Johnny Damon just became the 11th player in MLB history with at least 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 homers, and 2500 hits. All of the other players to rack up those numbers are in the Hall of Fame. You may have heard of some of the names on that list - Paul Molitor, George Brett, Robin Yount, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Al Simmons, Lou Gehrig, Goose Goslin, Rogers Hornsby, and Babe Ruth. That's quite a list. That's some pretty heady company for Johnny Damon. But does he really belong being mentioned in the same breath as those guys?

Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Stan Musial would be insulted if you even asked. Damon is also not close in numbers to Paul Molitor's accomplishments. Surprisingly Damon has more runs scored than the great Rogers Hornsby as well as George Brett and Al Simmons. This can pretty much be explained away by the fact that Damon has normally been a lead-off or two hole hitter while the others were hitting 3rd or clean-up in the order. Put another way - Damon was the guy getting on base and they were the guys whose jobs was to drive them in.

Damon also has more runs scored than Goose Goslin who finished his career with exactly 500 doubles - so Damon will also finish with more two-baggers than Goslin. But Goose was a guy who had a career .316 batting average and an OPS+ of 128. Compare that to Damon's .287 batting average and 105 OPS+. Lou Gehrig finished his career with 2721 hits. That's a number that Damon probably will eclipse (currently Damon has 2646 hits). Does that mean a comparison between Damon and Gehrig is warranted? If you said yes - please put down the crack pipe.

The only player statistically close to Johnny Damon on that list is Robin Yount. When comparing the numbers though you have to remember that Robin Yount currently has more than 500 more games played and more than 2000 more plate appearances than Damon. If Damon plays 3 more seasons then these numbers could end up pretty damn close.

Damon - 1597 R/ 2646 H/ 500 2B/ 102 3B/ 223 HR/ 1080 RBI
Yount - 1632 R/ 3142 H/ 583 2B/ 126 3B/ 251 HR/ 1350 RBI

Damon - 392 SB/ .287 BA/ .790 OPS/ 105 OPS+
Yount - 271 SB/ .285 BA/ .772 OPS/ 115 OPS+

Those numbers are pretty damn close. I also discount the OPS+ difference to a point because Damon is damaged by playing his career among the steroid fueled OPS+ monsters who negatively affected players who did not use the needle.

The bottom line is that Johnny Damon really needs to get to 3,000 hits in order to get proper consideration for the Hall of Fame. He has been over-looked and under-valued his whole career and I doubt that will change much when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration.

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