But Damon isn’t in any way a better player than Vada Pinson, another lefty-swinging centerfielder who played the bulk of his career for the Cincinnati Reds, whose career counting stats are remarkably similar to Damon’s. When you adjust for era, Pinson is a better player, and he was certainly a better player at his peak than Damon.
Vada still has about 30 more hits than Damon; he has more homers (and triples—ha!) than Damon. It’s clear that as a young player he was much more highly thought of by his team: the Reds batted Pinson third for a number of seasons.
...The comparison chart, at first glance, seems to favor Damon—that long, sustained performance into the twilight of his career has a lot of counting stats that build up to boost his case. But focus on that OPS+ value and remember that 1966-75—the years of Pinson’s long decline phase—represent the lowest collective run-scoring environment since the deadball era. And focus on the fact that Pinson was a lot better than Damon as a younger player.
And then focus on the fact that Vada Pinson, as good as he was, as close to great as he was as a young player, is in no conceivable way a Hall of Famer. And if we are saying that—the great honking bellwether for the largest possible of all possible Halls of Fame—if we are saying that, then realize that these are two guys who are quintessential icons for what others (whose names shall be suppressed so that Talky Tina will not pay their daughters a fateful nighttime visit…) call The Hall of Very Good.