Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Baseball Post

Is Johnny Damon going to get 3000 hits?

He's at 2605. He had 300 hits over the last two years (almost on the nose -- 301). So if he keeps to that pace and stays a regular this year and next, he'll be maybe 125, 150 away...he could easily get that as a scrub over a couple of years, most likely. And he's certainly not too old for that; this is his 37 year old season, so we're talking hanging on until 41 or 42. There aren't a lot of guys with Damon's overall quality who play regularly at 38, but there are some.

On the other hand: he's not really good enough any more to play every day. His OPS+ was down to 106 last year, and it's right at 100 so far this year; that's OK for a center fielder, but he hasn't been a center fielder for a good long while. Generally, the way this works is that players of Damon's quality don't wind up playing 140 games at age 38, because they're not good enough to play regularly when they've fallen that far from their peak. See: Al Oliver, or Vada Pinson (both on his most similar list). So we'll see. I'd still bet strongly against it.

How did he get this close? Two-plus seasons with the Royals when he really wasn't ready yet (that's ~320 hits through age 23). And then a whole lot of health. He's stayed over 140 games played every year so far, ages 22-36. And, well, that's about it. He's not a particularly high batting average guy (287). He takes a reasonable number of walks, so it's not as if he's getting extra ABs that way -- he already has ~170 more BB+HBP than Lou Brock.

He's obviously not HOF quality, but if he stays a regular the next two years, and if he wants to hang on after that for long enough to make it to 3000 -- well, I wouldn't vote for him, but I don't have a vote, and the actual voters may be desperate to find guys they can vote for. But as I said, my best guess is that he falls safely short of 3000, in which case he'll have no Hall support at all.


  1. I think Bill James once wrote about Steve Sax, who was on a good pace about 1991, that you just don't get 3,000 hits unless you're a great player. As you note above, the guys who aren't legitimately great just don't last that long.

    Damon's slightly better than Sax, who didn't even reach 2,000, and probably slightly worse than Harold Baines, who flamed out in the 2,800's. This strongly suggests Damon will reach the end of the line sooner rather than later.

  2. Bill James created what he called the "favorite toy," which was an ad hoc method of forecasting career totals. There's an on-line calculator here:

    When I plugged in Damon's end-of-2010 numbers, it forecast a career hit total of 3051 and a 62% chance of reaching 3000.

    My experience reading about and occasionally using the "favorite toy" is that it tends to overestimate players near the ends of their careers, but that's what it says.

  3. I'd quibble with the "whole lot of health" description. More like a "whole lot of toughness" and playing through injuries that would have benched other players for weeks or months.

  4. He is a very good player ( or was ) and he is good in the clutch . He will get some HOF votes but will fall well short of admittance. The article is too harsh toward him , he deserves credit for a very good career .


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?