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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Johnny Damon Tells MLB Network He Prefer to Enter the Hall of Fame as a Royal

Ha! He better not try to pay his way in dressed as Royal Dano. I’ll tell you that!

Tonight on MLB Network Johnny Damon did a pregame interview with Matt Vasgersian. The interview touched on the end of Damon’s career, and if he ever thinks about getting close to the Hall of Fame. Transcribing loosely, the following exchange took place:

  Vasgersian: I know you don’t get to decide, but if you did, whose cap would you be wearing if you went into the Hall of Fame?

  Damon: Well, it’s a tough decision… four years in Boston… four years in New York… five and a half years in Kansas City. And if you go by the numbers, that’s where my best years were.

I’m sure this will invite some debate about whether or not Damon is or should be a Hall of Famer and probably some will be angry that he didn’t give the boring answer of “well, I have to get there first.” Fine.

 

Repoz Posted: July 21, 2011 at 11:34 PM | 124 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, media, television

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   1. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:12 AM (#3883027)
Beat the Onion to it.
   2. TerpNats Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:24 AM (#3883034)
Good work, Johnny, effectively giving the finger to both evil empires! We're proud of you.
   3. Esoteric Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:24 AM (#3883035)
I don't think Damon is a Hall of Famer, but this is kind of cool, actually.
   4. Gamingboy Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:28 AM (#3883038)
I suggest they make a compromise: the hat can be Royals, the uniform (neck vaguely visible) can be Yankees and the hair can be Red Sox.
   5. Tripon Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:49 AM (#3883042)
It's nice to want things.
   6. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:58 AM (#3883045)
If he gets to 3,000 he is going to the Hall.

What numbers does he think show his best years were in KC?
   7. Dave Spiwak Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:59 AM (#3883046)
Damon: Well, it’s a tough decision… four years in Boston… four years in New York… five and a half years in Kansas City. And if you go by the numbers, that’s where my best years were.


FYI here are his seasons by WAR...

                     
Year    Age   Tm WARx
2000     26  KCR  6.6
1999     25  KCR  4.9
2002     28  BOS  4.7
2008     34  NYY  4.5
2004     30  BOS  4.4
2009     35  NYY  4.4
2006     32  NYY  3.7
2007     33  NYY  3.1
2001     27  OAK  2.7
2005     31  BOS  2.4
2010     36  DET  2.3
1997     23  KCR  1.9
2011     37  TBR  1.6
1995     21  KCR  1.4
1998     24  KCR  1.4
2003     29  BOS  0.6
1996     22  KCR  0.0


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/21/2011.
   8. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:01 AM (#3883047)
If he gets to 3,000 he is going to the Hall.


I will continue to insist he doesn't go in, 3,000 or not.
   9. Chris in Wicker Park Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:05 AM (#3883048)
I bet Francoeur would give the same answer if asked.
   10. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:10 AM (#3883049)

I will continue to insist he doesn't go in, 3,000 or not.


I will continue to insist he isn't in, even if he is.
   11. Srul Itza Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:11 AM (#3883051)
If he gets to 3,000 hits, he will also likely have close to 1,800 runs scored, and great story to go with it as regards the 2004 WS. So I can see him going in.
   12. PJ Martinez Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:15 AM (#3883053)
The other day Jonah Keri wrote a piece for Grantland saying that 3,000 hits doesn't meant that much anymore. "If Johnny Damon plays two more seasons," Keri wrote, "he stands a chance to reach 3,000. If teams keep finding reasons to play Omar Vizquel, he could hit 3,000 by his 48th birthday."

Which made me think: Johnny Damon has had an excellent career. And so has Omar Vizquel -- who will not, however, be playing in 2015. So... 3,000 hits is still pretty meaningful?
   13. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:28 AM (#3883057)
I will continue to insist he doesn't go in, 3,000 or not.
I just can't see them turning away a guy who reached a major milestone in what will be (as far as we know now) deemed an "untainted" fashion. Especially one who has a good deal of fame, was part of 2 WS winners, etc.

I mean you have to get all the way down to Baines at 2866 before finding the first guy with no PED/gambling issue that isn't in the Hall.
   14. Dale Sams Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:30 AM (#3883058)
Even if he gets past 3,000...you're going to see a lot of articles about 'how he doesn't feel like a HOFer' 'might have used steroids'...etc...etc...I definitly don't think he'll ne a first rounder.
   15. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:35 AM (#3883060)
I just can't see them turning away a guy who reached a major milestone in what will be (as far as we know now) deemed an "untainted" fashion. Especially one who has a good deal of fame, was part of 2 WS winners, etc.


And I can't see how a major milestone is enough to turn a guy that otherwise would be lucky to stay on the ballot for more than a few seasons into one who gets elected. No one has ever thought of Damon as a Hall of Famer during his professional career. I don't think 3,000 hits changes that for 3/4 of the electorate.
   16. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:38 AM (#3883062)
[Edit: @14]

Oh absolutely. I'd say 3 or 4 years, minimum. I think it could be one hell of an interesting discussion though.
   17. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:39 AM (#3883063)
Blyleven got in, so there's hope for the demise of big-shiny-number bias.
   18. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:41 AM (#3883064)
No one has ever thought of Damon as a Hall of Famer during his professional career.
Bobby V and Kurkjian were just talking about him that way the other night, citing big counting numbers. I suspect many voters will think "a guy with 3,000 hits should be a Hall of Famer" and will go find what other numbers they feel they need to justify it.
   19. PJ Martinez Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:47 AM (#3883068)
I wonder if Damon playing for the Devil Rays hurts his chances. There's still the taint of the retirement-home era of McGriff, Boggs, et al, isn't there? So if Damon gets 3,000 hits while a Ray, some people might say, "Yeah, but he had to go to Tampa to do it."

This comment will probably be null and void if the Rays can start contending again while Damon is still there.
   20. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:58 AM (#3883071)
A long career in a 162 game league batting near the top of the order and being remarkably healthy amounts to a whole bunch of plate appearances. There's a good chance Damon winds up Top 20 by the time he's done, knocking Honus Freakin Wagner off the list.
   21. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:12 AM (#3883074)
Looks like Jesus.
Throws like Mary.
Acts like Judas.
Fantasizes like Aldo Nova.
   22. Darren Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:16 AM (#3883076)
Another great headline. "Damon Prefers!" He says "if you go by the numbers..." not anything about what he prefers. And yes, I only read the blurb here.
   23. True Blue Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:22 AM (#3883077)
I have said it before and I will say it again. The stupidest thing in baseball, well besides Bud Selig, is the "what cap will such and such wear ion hos plaque"? Who gives a rat's behind about that? Whether Damon or for that matter Vizquel should go in if they get 3,000 is another matter, and far more interesting.
   24. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:29 AM (#3883080)
Every player who has reached 3000 hits has made the HoF except for Palmeiro. Would Damon be the worst player on the list?
   25. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:35 AM (#3883081)
Every player who has reached 3000 hits has made the HoF except for Palmeiro. Would Damon be the worst player on the list?


It depends where you place him against Brock (a HoFer for the SBs and postseason record more than the hits). Otherwise, by far. Everyone else is a pretty obvious Hall of Famer.
   26. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:35 AM (#3883082)
Damon already has 10 more WAR than Lou Brock. Wait, that sounds weird.

A WAR score 10 points higher? More WAR? His WAR is 10 bigger? You get the idea.
   27. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:39 AM (#3883083)
Deleted because 2 other people answered ahead of me.
   28. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:44 AM (#3883085)
Yeah, I'd've done the same thing, but the time stamp says I at least tied SoSH. And hey, I had a stat to back me up.
   29. eric Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:49 AM (#3883088)
No one has ever thought of Damon as a Hall of Famer during his professional career. I don't think 3,000 hits changes that for 3/4 of the electorate.


A similar thing worked for Nolan Ryan. Revered as he is today, back in 1989 or so when he signed with the Rangers he had 4775 career strikeouts, but "only" 273 wins, and the articles on him were "Nolan Ryan, HOFer or merely freak of nature?" It was very much an open question--he was a .500ish pitcher who happened to strike out lots of guys but wasn't a big "winner". He was viewed much in the same way Bert Blyleven was viewed for so long. Since Ryan had a second peak with the Rangers and flew past both 300 wins and 5000 strikeouts, within 5 years he was a legend.

If Johnny Damon passes 3000 hits and 1800 runs it means he will be productive for another 2-3 years, which means there's plenty of time for writers to wake up, realize he's on the cusp of reaching some "automatic" goals and the trend of the articles will be from questioning whether he's a HOFer, to explaining why a guy who helped break The Curse and was an electric lead-off man for 20 years with no steroid accusations should be in the HOF, all the way to declaring him a no-brainer.

With the proliferation of advanced statistics any change in Damon's image won't be as dramatic as it was for Ryan (nevermind that Damon doesn't have anything as flashy as 5000 K's or 7 no-hitters to hang his hat on) but it will still be there and with 3000+ hits he will sail into the Hall, although probably closer to the 75% cutoff than to 100% (like Yount did, and Biggio will).
   30. bobm Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:49 AM (#3883090)
Vasgersian: I know you don’t get to decide, but if you did, whose cap would you be wearing if you went into the Hall of Fame?

Damon: Well, it’s a tough decision… four years in Boston… four years in New York… five and a half years in Kansas City. And if you go by the numbers, that’s where my best years were.


The great thing is, Johnny Damon can buy a ticket one day and enter the Hall wearing a Red Sox cap, go back the next day and buy another ticket wearing a Yankee cap, and then go back a third day and buy a ticket wearing a Royals cap.
   31. Dale Sams Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:54 AM (#3883091)
can start contending again while Damon is still there.


uhm...hmmm...interesting. I was going to quibble, but I see the Chicago White Sox are closer to a playoff spot than the Rays. But really, If Longoria wern't underperforming and they had a tad more help from the bottom of the line-up, I'd like their chances better.

And right now, Damon's OPS+ is better than 10 of his 17 years.
   32. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 22, 2011 at 03:19 AM (#3883100)
A similar thing worked for Nolan Ryan. Revered as he is today, back in 1989 or so when he signed with the Rangers he had 4775 career strikeouts, but "only" 273 wins, and the articles on him were "Nolan Ryan, HOFer or merely freak of nature?" It was very much an open question--he was a .500ish pitcher who happened to strike out lots of guys but wasn't a big "winner". He was viewed much in the same way Bert Blyleven was viewed for so long. Since Ryan had a second peak with the Rangers and flew past both 300 wins and 5000 strikeouts, within 5 years he was a legend.


I recognize there was a decided change of opinion on Nolan, but there's no way in hell Nolan is any way comparable to Johnny Damon. The 7 no-hitters and all-time strikeout record all make him decidedly different than Johnny Damon, whose Hall of Fame case will rest entirely on 3,000 hits and playing for two World Series winners. I suspect 3,000 will be enough to keep him on the ballot instead of falling off, but there's no way he's going in on the first ballot, and I firmly doubt he ever goes in through the BBWAA. Hell, I won't be surprised if Biggio doesn't go in on the first ballot, and he actually deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

I don't believe there are any automatic tickets. Milestones can grease the skids for the deserving, but until we see an otherwise undeserving player make the Hall solely on the basis of a single milestone, I'm going to be skeptical it will be enough to reverse longheld opinion on a player's Cooperstown worthiness.
   33. KT's Pot Arb Posted: July 22, 2011 at 03:57 AM (#3883109)
Damon already has 10 more WAR than Lou Brock. Wait, that sounds weird


Just more evidence he's not a HOFer.
   34. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 03:59 AM (#3883111)
If Longoria wern't underperforming and they had a tad more help from the bottom of the line-up


And if they'd use any one of the fifteen outfield prospects they have tearing up the minors instead of Sam Fuld....
   35. Loren F. Posted: July 22, 2011 at 04:47 AM (#3883127)
Damon never ranked higher than 13th in MVP voting. At least Brock was Top 10 in MVP voting five times, including one year as the runner-up. I'm not advocating Brock's case, but pointing out that Brock had several years where the writers believed he was a dominating player (whether or not he was). Damon was never viewed that way, even though his best season, 2000, was notably better than Brock's best season. Damon really is the case of a player who never had great seasons but had plenty of "pretty good" seasons, consistently being considered the third or fourth best player at his position each year (and hence few All Star appearances), and just compiled stats over a healthy career. The Hall certainly has some compilers in it, but it's hard to find others HoFers who had so little of a peak as Damon: even Don Sutton had a few really elite seasons in the 1970s. I just don't think 3,000 hits will be enough for Johnny.
   36. Dale Sams Posted: July 22, 2011 at 05:16 AM (#3883129)
So...odds on 2004 Red Sox making it to the HOF from top to bottom:

Pedro Martinez
Curt Schilling
Johnny Damon

Kevin Youkilis


David Ortiz



Jason Varitek








Manny Ramirez
   37. Something Other Posted: July 22, 2011 at 06:13 AM (#3883135)
With the proliferation of advanced statistics any change in Damon's image won't be as dramatic as it was for Ryan (nevermind that Damon doesn't have anything as flashy as 5000 K's or 7 no-hitters to hang his hat on) but it will still be there and with 3000+ hits he will sail into the Hall, although probably closer to the 75% cutoff than to 100% (like Yount did, and Biggio will).

I was with you until you got to "he will sail into the Hall." Damon's no one's idea of a clear HOFer, and plenty of voters are going to need persuading. Agree with SOSH in 32. I think Damon's a lot more like Don Sutton than Ryan, especially if Sutton had barely made it past 300 wins. Even with 324 wins it took Sutton five years to get voted in. Imagine if he had juuust squeaked over the magic number, as I assume Damon will--if he makes it at all. In that case Sutton might well have waiting at least five more years, and I don't think it's impossible that he wouldn't have made the Hall.

As other people noted, and was raised in earlier threads, it's the numbers that go with 3000 hits: 1800 runs, 3000 games played, that'll probably push Damon over.
   38. TerpNats Posted: July 22, 2011 at 06:15 AM (#3883136)
Damon would seem to fit the definition of a "Category D" Hall of Famer from the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract: Someone who was rarely, if ever, perceived as "great," but was very, very good for a long, long time.
   39. Something Other Posted: July 22, 2011 at 06:34 AM (#3883137)
TerpNats--how often do those guys go in? (And I'm guessing Brock was one of them?)
   40. Gotham Dave Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:26 AM (#3883141)
One thing that never gets brought up in HOF debates but is probably relevant to the voting (and I'm not even going to argue outright that it shouldn't be) is, well... how famous was the guy? Damon was a very, very famous player, because he's been very good, played for the two overexposed teams, had the goofy hair thing, has a somewhat distinctive style of play for the era in which he plays, and is a good looking guy. JD Drew has four less WAR (!) than Damon, which is probably best analyzed as saying that Damon doesn't belong in the Hall at all, but also says a lot about what a popular/notorious player Damon was/is.
   41. Norcan Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:32 AM (#3883144)
Someone who was rarely, if ever, perceived as "great," but was very, very good for a long, long time.


I don't think he was even that. I think he's been GOOD overall for a long, long time. Being very, very good I rate as only being a step down from elite and he certainly wasn't that.

He's enjoyed a ton of advantages in his career: high profile markets, high profile playoff games, offensive era, offensive ballparks and yet he's never really performed like an elite player besides for maybe one season or been thought of one. Kudos to him for his longevity and consistency getting hits but a B- to B player isn't an hall of famer no matter his threshold achievements.
   42. Norcan Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:46 AM (#3883147)
JD Drew has four less WAR (!) than Damon, which is probably best analyzed as saying that Damon doesn't belong in the Hall at all, but also says a lot about what a popular/notorious player Damon was/is.


So you're saying that Damon is getting hall of fame discussion because he's very, very famous? I think he's been topical purely because of his high hit total and how high it might climb rather than because he's been famous. During his "overexposed" stints with the Yankees and Red Sox, when he was at the height of his fame, he wasn't thought of as a hall of famer.

I wonder if the perception of him would be different among scribes like Kurkjian, who was down on Damon's candidacy, if his home runs against the Yankees in game 7 didn't come in the ALCS but in the World Series. Maybe he wouldn't be a Morris like cause celebre for primetime gamer folks but maybe close.
   43. Gonfalon B. Posted: July 22, 2011 at 08:36 AM (#3883152)
There are two eligible players with 2,750 hits who aren't in the Hall (besides Palmeiro): Harold Baines at 2866 and Vada Pinson with 2757. Throw in Al Oliver, who has 2743. Besides reaching top 20 in runs, 3,000-Hit-Getting Damon would also have about as many stolen bases as all three of them put together. He's even going to be well clear of The Great Electoral Clusterf#@%.

If Damon gets 3,000, of course he's going in. 2,950 would probably be enough.
   44. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 09:15 AM (#3883157)
I recognize there was a decided change of opinion on Nolan, but there's no way in hell Nolan is any way comparable to Johnny Damon. The 7 no-hitters and all-time strikeout record all make him decidedly different than Johnny Damon, whose Hall of Fame case will rest entirely on 3,000 hits and playing for two World Series winners.
Agreed. Before his Rangers days, Ryan was perceived as a HOF talent who had underperformed. Damon, not so much.
   45. True Blue Posted: July 22, 2011 at 10:51 AM (#3883164)
Leaving out Rose and Palmeiro, do members of the 3,000 hit club ever have to wait to get elected? Maybe some old time guy like Eddie Collins but Brock, Mays, Kaline, Brett, Molitor, etc..they all go in on the first ballot,IIRC. Damon might have to wait if he ets but I doubt it. The post season heroics with Boston and the Yankees should tip the balance.

Nolan Ryan may not have been respected buy the SABR community (in one of his early books, Bill James predicted he would have a career losing record) but the establishment LOVED him, although it didn't show up on Cy Young voting (what,no "he can't pitch to the score arguments"?). I remember seeing ESPN Sports Reporters after he was elected elected and the other guys were ribbing Bill Conlin, who didn't vote for him. And Conlin wasn't offering any defense, just shrugging his shoulder. Of course there was a whole 15 year period where ripping the Mets for bad trades whose mandatory, and Ryan and others for Fregosi was always mentioned.
   46. bjhanke Posted: July 22, 2011 at 10:53 AM (#3883165)
Here's how I think about it: Modern medicine and the long schedule have made it easier and easier to pass benchmarks. Eventually, the nice round numbers that used to be automatic for the HoF will no longer be at all adequate, because there will be people passing the benchmarks who are clearly not HoF players. The question is when that will happen. The offensive surge that started about 1994 has thrown a monkey wrench into the timing, as it means that some players will pass benchmarks that they would not have passed in a more normal offensive context. There is also the issue of round numbers. Even f you could completely justify raising the hits benchmark to, say, 3200, that's not as round a number as 3000 is, and we're nowhere near justifying using 4000, or even 3500.

Because the timing is going to be weird, I imagine there will be some mistakes made in admitting players who have passed benchmarks. But I also think that those mistakes are most likely to be made by the writers instead of the veterans. By the time that Johnny Damon, say, gets taken up by the vets, assuming that he does not pass the BBWAA, the benchmark issue is likely to have settled down considerably. The BBWAA will no longer be reacting automatically to the benchmarks, and the vets will follow that lead. His best chance, since he's at best a borderline candidate, is to catch the writers before they adjust to all this.

Therefore, I think Damon's (and Vizquel's) best chance is with the writers.

I also think that looking at career WAR without context is a lousy way to look at this, because career WAR is subject to the illusions of long schedules and long careers, which are two of the same illusions that are going to plague the automatic benchmark crowd. I think you're going to have to look at WAR in the context of ordinals. That is, among his contemporaries, where does Lou Brock rank in terms of WAR? Does Johnny Damon rank as highly among his contemporaries? How are you going to adjust that for there being more teams in Johnny's time than there were in Lou's? Without making those adjustments, WAR is going to be misleading, as are career Win Shares or any other career counting stat, no matter how uber.

I also think that this process is going to be hard and emotional, because it involves lots of context decisions, rather than relying on round numbers, which is much easier (which is probably why they started getting used in the first place). I don't really envy HoF voters the next decade of their jobs. - Brock Hanke
   47. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:31 PM (#3883180)
I bet if Damon spends most of his career with one team, he'd have a much better shot at getting in.

I never understood Royals fans enmity towards Damon. He did what he was told, never publicly demanded a trade, and rejected what sounded like a below market deal from the team. Its not his fault the team branded him as "the next George Brett" and its not his fault they got a shitty return in the trade for him.
   48. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:31 PM (#3883181)
Is there anyone touting his case? It seems like we've seen more than a few "what cap would he wear?" or "if he gets 3,000 does he get in?" articles but I can't recall ever seeing anyone say "I'll vote for him if he gets to 3,000."

I just don't see it happening for him unless he just keeps going and blows away 3,000. I think he'll get more support than he should/would without 3,000 hits but I don't think he gets in or really even gets close.

The other problem is a borderline Johnny Damon is not going to be getting the support that guys like Rice or Blyleven got. He doesn't have a fan base that adores him and he doesn't have a case that is going to create a Lederer-like advocacy.
   49. AJMcCringleberry Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:45 PM (#3883185)
No one has ever thought of Damon as a Hall of Famer during his professional career.

After he hit his 500th double I had someone I know tell me he should be a HOFer. He also tried to tell me that Biggio shouldn't. I was going to mention that Biggio had more than 600 doubles, but I know better than to get into baseball arguments with most people.
   50. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:01 PM (#3883187)
Sure, Joe Randa would wear a Royals cap if Cooperstown called.
   51. Famous Original Joe C Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:26 PM (#3883199)
After he hit his 500th double I had someone I know tell me he should be a HOFer. He also tried to tell me that Biggio shouldn't. I was going to mention that Biggio had more than 600 doubles, but I know better than to get into baseball arguments with most people.

You shouldn't hang out with so many sportswriters, AJM.
   52. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:33 PM (#3883202)
After he hit his 500th double I had someone I know tell me he should be a HOFer. He also tried to tell me that Biggio shouldn't. I was going to mention that Biggio had more than 600 doubles, but I know better than to get into baseball arguments with most people.

Couldn't you have just said it, then added that something on the stove was burning and quickly hung up the phone?
   53. Rafael Bellylard: A failure of the waist. Posted: July 22, 2011 at 01:33 PM (#3883203)
So you're saying that Damon is getting hall of fame discussion because he's very, very famous?


I'm seeing a connection here.
   54. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:02 PM (#3883214)
If Damon gets to 3,000, particularly if he does so without hanging on for a long time at an especially noticeable low level of play, I don't see the writers denying him, although it may take 3-5 ballots. For all the talk of 3,000 hits being devalued, there aren't a lot of "unworthies" threatening the mark, and if that's still the case when Damon is being voted on, I suspect he gets the benefit of the doubt for doing it "the hard way".
   55. zack Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:07 PM (#3883216)
What's with the low games played total for Damon? He's had one 150, and on 154 game season since he left Oakland. Everything else is in the 140's, which isn't exactly low, but it's kind of unusual.
   56. TerpNats Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:13 PM (#3883217)
I don't think he was even that. I think he's been GOOD overall for a long, long time. Being very, very good I rate as only being a step down from elite and he certainly wasn't that.

He's enjoyed a ton of advantages in his career: high profile markets, high profile playoff games, offensive era, offensive ballparks and yet he's never really performed like an elite player besides for maybe one season or been thought of one. Kudos to him for his longevity and consistency getting hits but a B- to B player isn't an Hall of Famer no matter his threshold achievements.
In other words, had he played his entire career for teams as essentially anonymous as the mid- to late-'30s Philadelphia A's (or remained with the Royals up to now), Damon would have about as much chance of getting in the HOF as Indian Bob Johnson.
   57. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:17 PM (#3883222)
I'll leave the HoM arguments to others, but I'd love to see Johnny Damon in the HoF even if his numbers don't put him there. No matter whether he played for America's team, Lucifer's Red Pajamas, or America's forgotten team, he was always the kind of ballplayer I loved to see for a thousand reasons, even if he does throw like a girl. And even though with 3000 hits his numbers are still likely to be marginal, this is one of those cases where IDGAF, just put the guy in.
   58. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:23 PM (#3883226)
Monkeys tell MLB Network they want to fly out of Johnny Damon's butt.
   59. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:23 PM (#3883227)
What's with the low games played total for Damon? He's had one 150, and on 154 game season since he left Oakland. Everything else is in the 140's, which isn't exactly low, but it's kind of unusual.


I suspect the answer is nothing more profound than "he entered his 30s." He's a high energy player who crashes into anything that doesn't move (and in the case of Damian Jackson at least one thing that did move). During his time with the Sox it seemed like he would often pick up a little pull of some kind. He avoided the DL but just would need to odd day off here and there.
   60. Mudpout Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:47 PM (#3883240)
I think right now a useful comp for Damon is Tommy John, a player with a relatively low (good, but not great) peak, and high counting stats due to sustained quality. A quick look at BR,
- John has a high WARtermark of 5.6, 5 years between 4.2 and 5.2, 8 between 2 and 3.3, 7 between 1 and 2, and then 7 years of 1 or lower, total of 59.
- Damon has a high of 6.6, 5 years between 4.4 and 4.9, 5 between 2 and 3.7, 4 between 1 and and 2 (including this year at the moment), and 2 of less than 1, career 50.6.

So, a relatively low peak for someone getting talked about for the Hall, but longevity at a quality level to get near a statistical landmark (John finished with 288 wins). Right now John played in many more seasons, but a couple of solid fullish-time years from Damon essentially make up that difference. I wouldn't squawk if Damon ended up in the Hall, but John never got above 32% on the ballot. If Damon actually gets 3000, it gets more complicated, but it's still the same career shape, there's just a couple more 2s and maybe a 3 thrown in, season-wise.
   61. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 02:59 PM (#3883246)
Since Ryan had a second peak with the Rangers and flew past both 300 wins and 5000 strikeouts, within 5 years he was a legend.


It's the "second peak" stuff that really cemented Ryan as a legend. Which isn't to say that certain statistical benchmarks didn't play a prominent role (most notably, the 5000th strikeout), but the truly important part is that he met those milestones in a captivating fashion rather than wheezing toward them in a steady decline. Ryan was a national phenomenon from 1989-93 or so because he was an old fart who could flirt with a no-hitter any old time, while pitching an occasional Advil for pain. Johnny Damon might or might not soldier on to 3000 hits, but it's going to take an insane hitting streak or something like that to approach something even close to what Ryan gained from his second peak.
   62. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 22, 2011 at 03:03 PM (#3883247)
Ryan was a national phenomenon from 1989-93 or so because he was an old fart who could flirt with a no-hitter any old time, while pitching an occasional Advil for pain.


And don't forget some serious Ventura Ropin'.
   63. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 03:19 PM (#3883257)
Geez, I yadda-yadda'd over the best part ....
   64. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 22, 2011 at 03:30 PM (#3883261)
I just don't see it happening for him unless he just keeps going and blows away 3,000. I think he'll get more support than he should/would without 3,000 hits but I don't think he gets in or really even gets close.
And I still go back to the simple idea that 3,000 hits is considered a very big deal. It's the only career hit-total milestone (other than the record) that anyone cares about or talks about, and 28 players in the entire history of the game have reached it, and every one of them who was eligible and didn't fail a drug test is in the Hall.

Yes, Damon is worse than all but (maybe) one of that group. But he's famous, was a key part of two WS champions, and has been considered a very good player. In addition to 3,000 H he'll have 400+ SBs at a good success rate, 550+ doubles, ~250 HR from a guy who primarily hit leadoff, top 20 alltime in runs scored, etc.

There may come a time when someone makes it to 3,000 hits who doesn't get elected (say, if someone like Garret Anderson had managed to limp there) but I see almost no chance that person is Damon.
   65. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 22, 2011 at 03:45 PM (#3883270)
But he's famous, was a key part of two WS champions, and has been considered a very good player


(emphasis mine)

I think this is the key thing. The perception of Damon is just that; "very good." I don't think anyone out there is beating the drum to say he's great and the non-3,000 hit numbers are not of such genius that they are likely to sway anyone. 400 steals, 550 doubles, 250 HR, these are all good totals certainly but there is nothing there that is going to motivate people to vote for him. Unlike say Brock with the steals there is no "hook" for Damon.

I think he settles into a 20-30% range and stays there for 15 years. He will be the Kingman of 3,000 hit guys (if he gets there).
   66. kthejoker Posted: July 22, 2011 at 04:05 PM (#3883280)
I am totally on board with Brock's point in 47. But I would add there is a certain level of longevity and positive stats accumulation (even just 1 or 2 WAR) that puts you in the "Class D" Bill James Hall of Fame.

So the question for Damon really can't be answered, because we don't know how long he can go on. He doesn't have much speed or strengh to lose - he just produces a .360 OBP like clockwork. That's his only skill. There was this other guy named Rose who had a similar skill set (Johnny Damon is his #1 comp through age 36.)

He may go on doing it for just one more year, he may do it for 10 years.

Where he falls on that spectrum will really determine how the voters and we see him. If he somehow like Rose keeps tacking on even mediocre offensive seasons for another 7-8 years, he'll be making a clear run at Musial, Aaron, Speaker for top 5 all-time in hits, and an outside shot at being the all-time runs scored leader.

And he'll have 400 steals, probably close to 300 homers, 1500 RBIs, and probably another pennant.

And although his WAR may only roll up to say, 55 or 60 (putting him decidedly on the fringe of outfielder HOF numbers), how would he not be a Hall of Famer?
   67. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 22, 2011 at 04:08 PM (#3883281)
@65, did many people say that Palmeiro was "great"? Didn't seem it to me though I could be remembering wrong. Without the PED issue do you think he would have had a hard time getting in? I think 3-5 ballots and he'd've gotten there without a ton of fuss.

This is of course just my opinion, but I think most current voters, faced with a guy who reached a major milestone, are going to have to be convinced (or convince themselves) that he *doesn't* belong. For a guy who isn't a no-brainer alltime great, I think the milestone flips the default position.
   68. Dale Sams Posted: July 22, 2011 at 04:10 PM (#3883283)
Monkeys tell MLB Network they want to fly out of Johnny Damon's butt.


According to "Fever Pitch", he has the Best Ass in Baseball. That should count for something too.
   69. Perry Posted: July 22, 2011 at 04:30 PM (#3883298)
Damon would seem to fit the definition of a "Category D" Hall of Famer from the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract: Someone who was rarely, if ever, perceived as "great," but was very, very good for a long, long time.


TerpNats--how often do those guys go in? (And I'm guessing Brock was one of them?)


No -- he might be now, but at the time he was regarded as a lot better than that. You have to remember that Brock was only the 13th player in history to 3,000 hits, plus he retired with the single-season and career stolen-base records. Add to that his dominating performance across 3 World Series and star role on some of the most famous teams of his era, and he was considered a no-question Hall of Famer.
   70. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 22, 2011 at 04:57 PM (#3883304)
Without the PED issue do you think he would have had a hard time getting in?


Depends on your definition of "hard time" I guess. I think your 3-5 years is a decent estimate (I think the longer side of that) but I think if 3000 hits + 570 homers requires a few years then 3000 hits + 250 homers is a tougher sell. I tend to be a bit pessimistic about the BBWAA though. I think Biggio won't be a first ballot guy either which is ridiculous of course.

I'm sure it bolsters one of our cases to point out that Don Sutton took five years to get in. Off the cuff I feel like he might be a reasonable comp for Damon's case with the milestone but not a lot of peak.

I think Damon is going to be hurt by his lack of affiliation. I noted above that he's not going to really have anyone shilling for him. I don't think any team or fan base has a strong affinity for him and unlike Blyleven (or Raines soon) there is not likely to be a sabermetric community outpouring for him.
   71. BDC Posted: July 22, 2011 at 04:58 PM (#3883307)
Yes, it's hard to explain Lou Brock when you just look at his stat lines and his performance on measures like WAR that didn't exist when he was playing. I think that from the time I first started reading Bill James Abstracts I realized that there was less to Brock's HOF case than I saw when Brock was active: lower OBP than one expects from a leadoff superstar, a high K-W ratio (though we did realize that when he was playing), no great defensive prowess (though we realized that too, actually).

One of the things that the sabermetric revolution brought about, pretty much in the teeth of 1980s strategies, at the same time that stolen-base season totals started to appear in box scores, was the thinking-fan's devaluation of the stolen base. When Brock was active, home run totals were considered extremely important, and as a kind of counterweight to that, people would admire high SB totals, figuring that a guy who could steal 50 bases a year, if not truly as valuable as someone who could hit 50 HR a year, was much of the way there. People did think of him as great.
   72. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 22, 2011 at 05:28 PM (#3883321)
Just looking at the recent BBWAA inductees I would say Yount (1999) was the last guy to get in who wasn't considered a Hall of Famer from a relatively early age and that may be a memory thing but my recollection is he had a case but was far from certain until he added the 2nd MVP at an older age and the numbers just kept growing. Everyone else of recent vintage I think was perceived in his prime as a future Hall of Famer. Even with Rice I think if you did a poll in 1980 of active players most likely to get in he would have been on a short list.

Molitor may also be a good comp for Damon (and I suspect part of this is the small market Brewers getting hurt in my memory more than anything). I will agree that if Damon pushes himself to 3200+ hits he's likely to go but I'm envisioning him sort of squeaking across the line ~3050 hits or so.
   73. bjhanke Posted: July 22, 2011 at 05:57 PM (#3883333)
Lou Brock's case is different from Johnny Damon's in these ways, at least: Brock set serious records in a stat that was, at the time, overvalued. Lou was more a power guy, and was famous for being a leadoff man with power. As a result of all the SB plus the power, Lou was in scoring position constantly, and so scored a lot of runs, especially in the context of his time period. He played until he had 3000 hits, when his prime time was the late 1960s and early 1970s, which are the mini-dead-ball era, when it was MUCH harder to accumulate 3000 hits than it is now. Johnny Damon might need to pile up 3400 or 3500 hits just to equal Lou in that one stat. There are people out there who will know just how close he came, within context, to being a "compiler of hits" in Lou Brock's class. That is, the same sabermetricians who downgrade Lou's OBP, which is fair, will also downgrade Damon's hits, which is also fair. Lou was one of the top five World Series hitters of all time, maybe in the top three. Johnny is not.

Perry, comment #69, has Lou's rep, when elected, about right, except that Perry forgot about the famous leadoff man power. Remember, when you're looking at Lou's stats, that there is an awful lot of gas taken out by the time period. You need to put that gas, including some bonus hits and runs, back in there. WAR attempts to do this, and may be correct. The uberstats also expose Lou's poor defense, which was not taken as being that bad when he played.

- Brock Hanke
   74. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 06:18 PM (#3883337)
And I can't see how a major milestone is enough to turn a guy that otherwise would be lucky to stay on the ballot for more than a few seasons into one who gets elected. No one has ever thought of Damon as a Hall of Famer during his professional career. I don't think 3,000 hits changes that for 3/4 of the electorate.


I see him going in if he makes it to 3,000. That will magically qualify him for, yes, I think 3/4 of the electorate.
   75. AROM Posted: July 22, 2011 at 06:27 PM (#3883341)
The uberstats also expose Lou's poor defense, which was not taken as being that bad when he played.


I thought he had a pretty bad reputation on defense. He was before my time, so I'm going on what Bill James has written about him. Looking at his record, his range factor per 9 was essentially average. And his TZ on range is -4 over his career - about a quarter run per season. His negative fielding runs come from outfield throwing - a category I use which would be better described as baserunner advancement prevention. Lou made a ton of errors, and this is the stat where OF errors show up, assuming that they are of the single/outfielder boots the ball/runners advance variety, which are much more common than dropped flyball errors.

I can understand how observers can miss a bad fielder who doesn't make plays - like Derek Jeter. But when your bad defense is primarily coming from ridiculously high error totals - Lou was in double digits almost every year with a high of 19 - observers aren't usually as forgiving.
   76. SoSH U at work Posted: July 22, 2011 at 06:27 PM (#3883342)
I see him going in if he makes it to 3,000. That will magically qualify him for, yes, I think 3/4 of the electorate.


Well, should he get to 3,000 hits, we can settle this with one of them BBRef sponsorship wager things the kids all seem to like.
   77. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 06:53 PM (#3883359)
Well, should he get to 3,000 hits, we can settle this with one of them BBRef sponsorship wager things the kids all seem to like.


I think he's getting to 3,000. So I'm happy to do a bb-ref sponsorship now, as a warm-up, if you disagree (do you?) that he'll get to 3,000.
   78. Karl from NY Posted: July 22, 2011 at 06:54 PM (#3883361)
Damon will go in if he does get the 3,000 hits. It won't be right away, but the 3k hits will easily keep him on the ballot to build up support over time like Jim Rice. The writers are going to need persuading, but I get the sense they'll be pretty open to getting persuaded. They'll want to vote for him (he was a STORY in huge letters) and will once they see some of their peers doing so.

He's vastly unqualified on the merits, though. Career 105 OPS+! I had no idea it was that low, would have guessed 120 at least. And little-to-no value on defense and baserunning.
   79. SoSH U at work Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:04 PM (#3883367)
I think he's getting to 3,000. So I'm happy to do a bb-ref sponsorship now, as a warm-up, if you disagree (do you?) that he'll get to 3,000.


A year ago, I'd have said no. Now, I tend to think he'll get there. Moreover, I want him to get there, just to see which one of us is correct.

But, considering how long we'll have to wait for that other bet to be determined (at least 8-9 years for you to win and even longer before I might claim it), then what the hell. Sure, I'll take the no side just to keep us reminded of the bigger question to come.
   80. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3883376)
But, considering how long we'll have to wait for that other bet to be determined (at least 8-9 years for you to win and even longer before I might claim it), then what the hell. Sure, I'll take the no side just to keep us reminded of the bigger question to come.


Done.
   81. geonose Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:25 PM (#3883377)
I never understood Royals fans enmity towards Damon.

He made it patently clear long before he was FA eligible that he was gettin' the H-E-double-toothpicks outta Dodge as soon as he was free to do so. Of course he's a Boras guy, so maybe that was all Boras blowing, but he sure never made an effort to indicate a desire to do anything otherwise.
   82. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:38 PM (#3883382)
The great thing is, Johnny Damon can buy a ticket one day and enter the Hall wearing a Red Sox cap, go back the next day and buy another ticket wearing a Yankee cap, and then go back a third day and buy a ticket wearing a Royals cap.

Wouldn't it make more sense to get an annual membership? Of course, it's not like Damon couldn't afford all those one day tickets, but you don't have to wait in line and there's also the cool magazine.
   83. smileyy Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:43 PM (#3883384)
He made it patently clear long before he was FA eligible that he was gettin' the H-E-double-toothpicks outta Dodge as soon as he was free to do so.


Not that anyone can blame him. Its pretty clear that Damon staying in KC does not turn that franchise into a successful one.
   84. AROM Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:44 PM (#3883386)
And little-to-no value on defense and baserunning.


Defense I'll give you, as whatever value he has from catching baseballs is offset by his inability to throw them. But baserunning? I'm got him at +132 runs - 73 from stealing and taking extra bases, 46 from never hitting into a double play, and +13 for reaching on error, which is particularly impressive for a lefthanded hitter.

Damon is pretty much the equal of Ichiro on the bases.
   85. smileyy Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:52 PM (#3883394)
Career 105 OPS+!


And not even as OBP-heavy (.350ish) as you'd want to see from a guy like that.
   86. Zach Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:56 PM (#3883399)
He made it patently clear long before he was FA eligible that he was gettin' the H-E-double-toothpicks outta Dodge as soon as he was free to do so.

The Royals had a pretty nice young nucleus at about that time, too. Damon, Dye and Beltran in the outfield, Sweeney at first. Damon was the first to approach free agency, so he was the one that broke up the band.

In retrospect, it was obviously the right move for Damon to leave. And the Royals weren't in a position to keep that group together even if he had wanted to stay. But having a great young core, then losing all of them for little or no return has a way of making you feel irrationally bitter.
   87. Srul Itza Posted: July 22, 2011 at 07:59 PM (#3883401)
he added the 2nd MVP at an older age


That second 1989 MVP for Yount was pretty much a lucky fluke Admittedly it was a very close vote, but he still got more first place votes than anyone, despite the fact that he didn't lead the league in RBI or any other category, and his Brewers finished 4th that year.
   88. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: July 22, 2011 at 08:03 PM (#3883405)
I see him going in if he makes it to 3,000. That will magically qualify him for, yes, I think 3/4 of the electorate.

As do I. In order for him to be the first "clean" player to 3,000 hits not to get elected, there would have to be some Other Stuff counterweighing the 3,000 hits, as there was with Kingman and the 400 HRs. But Damon's Other Stuff boosts his candidacy -- key protagonist in The Rivalry; excellent baserunner -- by AROM's numbers and reputation (**); overall likeability.

(**) And a ready-to-order proxy for the lazy -- his taking third base on the infield hit in Game 4 2009 WS.
   89. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 08:27 PM (#3883425)
I'm kind of curious how Damon gets to 3,000. He's an old guy without power or a super-high batting average. He needs two more years beyond this one of teams accepting that from their DH, which seems unlikely to me. Otherwise, he's going to have to compile his numbers from some cobbled-together reserve assignments, in which case his remaining skills might go dry before he reaches the milestone.
   90. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 22, 2011 at 08:30 PM (#3883430)
He made it patently clear long before he was FA eligible that he was gettin' the H-E-double-toothpicks outta Dodge as soon as he was free to do so.

Isn't that a common reaction when your employer indicates they aren't interested in paying the market rate for your service?
   91. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 22, 2011 at 08:55 PM (#3883454)
Johnny Damon might need to pile up 3400 or 3500 hits just to equal Lou in that one stat.
Where's bbref's translation/neutralization tool these days? (I clearly haven't been wasting enough time there recently.)
   92. kthejoker Posted: July 22, 2011 at 08:58 PM (#3883455)
It's under Advanced Batting, at the very bottom.
   93. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 22, 2011 at 09:06 PM (#3883460)
I must be getting blind or senile, I just don't see it.
   94. Karl from NY Posted: July 22, 2011 at 09:13 PM (#3883465)
But baserunning? I'm got him at +132 runs - 73 from stealing and taking extra bases, 46 from never hitting into a double play


Heh, I'm somewhere between idiot and lazy. I misread 393 SB as 303, and figured 101 CS and a success rate of two-thirds was no great shakes. Duh, that's 101 CS / 494 attempts not 101/303, and of course is just under 80%. Thanks for the catch.

Is that number for GIDP value opportunity-adjusted, or a function that he mostly batted leadoff for fewer opportunities?

BBref has Damon at 89 career batting RAR. So we are saying that Damon has created considerably more career value by running than by hitting? He might actually be borderline Hall-worthy on the merits, and amusingly on merits that will have nothing to do with why he'll actually get votes.
   95. Rafael Bellylard: A failure of the waist. Posted: July 22, 2011 at 09:21 PM (#3883467)
I think he's going to get the opportunity to get to 3000 hits. I just wonder who he'll be playing for in 2014 when he does it. He should be at 2700+ by the end of this season.

If he holds steady for the remainder of this season, he'll end around .270 with a dozen homers and a dozen steals. He hits LHP's well enough that he doesn't need to be platooned, and can still occasionally play LF if called upon. And his current contract is somewhere around 5M. Someone will sign him to another one for that level of production.
   96. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 22, 2011 at 09:42 PM (#3883491)
According to "Fever Pitch", he has the Best Ass in Baseball. That should count for something too.


Back when Damon was with Boston, I went to a game with a female friend and she made the same observation, so there must be something to it...
   97. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 22, 2011 at 10:12 PM (#3883505)
Yes, Damon is worse than all but (maybe) one of that group. But he's famous,
He is? By what standard? I mean, we all know him, but we're not exactly typical fans. Is Damon any more famous than any other player who has played for 15 years?
   98. Gonfalon B. Posted: July 22, 2011 at 10:17 PM (#3883507)
Assuming 2,950+ hits, I'll be surprised if it takes a third ballot to elect Damon.
   99. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: July 22, 2011 at 10:21 PM (#3883510)
I'm so sorry I called him an egomaniac. There's no ego here. None. At all.
   100. SoSH U at work Posted: July 22, 2011 at 10:24 PM (#3883513)
Assuming 2,950+ hits, I'll be surprised if it takes a third ballot to elect Damon.


Whereas assuming 2,950-2,999 hits, I'd be stunned if he sees a second.

BTW, all the way back in Post 3, TerpNats noted that JD was giving the finger to both evil empires. I suspect it's more likely that he doesn't want to offend either empire (and lose supporters for his HoF case), thus he makes the safe choice in KC, based on my impression of him since he left Boston.
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