Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Baseball Post

I don't want to write about the Giants flailing around, so how about a reprise of my post on Johnny Damon?

Back in May, I said I'd "bet strongly against" him getting to 3000 hits. Since then, it's gone just about as well for him as it could have. He got his 135th hit of the season today, giving him 2706. He's basically matched his OPS+ from last year (107 this year, 106 in 2010). The only real bad news at all is that he played a little less in the field...he's really close to a DH-only these days.

So at this point, he's a lot closer to making it. If he lands a full-time job next year (his age 38 season), and holds it all year, and then wants to stick around as a bench guy after that, and finds takers for a couple or three years, he's going to make it. So much could have gone wrong this year -- injuries, ineffectiveness, just losing his job to someone better. None of it has.

Will he make it? I'd still bet against it. The truth is, as I said back in the spring, that he's really not good enough to play every day in the majors any more. That doesn't mean he won't land a job, but it just means his margin of error is tiny at this point. Two bad months in a row, and he might never start regularly again. And anyone can have a couple of bad months; hey, Damon has had three whole years in his career where he was well below his established norms, whether from injuries or just a fluke. But as it happens his worst month this year was a 711 OPS, which isn't bad enough to seriously threaten his playing time (at least not given that his team was willing to play him when he could only be expected to be a bit better than that).

So: 300 hits (or almost that) is still enough that he's probably going to need at least one more year of 100 or more hits. Just by way of comparison, Matt Stairs got 243 hits in his final five seasons combined, which began with age 39. In other words, it's definitely possible he could get there if he gets 85 hits next year, but it's not very likely. Obviously the biggest thing by far is for him to land a full-time job for 2012...well, actually, I guess I'd say that the biggest thing by far is for him to absolutely be dedicated to 3000 as a goal.

Overall, I'd still bet against, but again he's a lot closer to it than he was in May.

1 comment:

  1. I was looking at his numbers on BBREF, and he's weirdly consistent. He's still hitting over his career OPS+ the last several years, and I don't see any obvious signs of decline in his numbers. His WAR is significantly down from his peak, I would guess due to positional adjustments?

    But the strange thing is just as a hitter he has no peak. 82% of his seasons are between 100 and 120 OPS+, with no season over 120, and nothing under 90 for quite some time.

    I have idea is that has any implications for his aging pattern going forward, but it struck me.

    Anyway, I agree with your bet. It's going to be hard for him to hold a job, without being able to play the field, at his hitting level...


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