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A Possible Future HOF Available to Mets on the Cheap

By Mike Silva ~ February 6th, 2012. Filed under: Hall of Fame, New York Mets.

Reports indicate that Johnny Damon is looking for a contract in the $5 million dollar range. I doubt he can score that kind of deal this late in the offseason, so maybe the Mets should see if they could swoop in and sign him to an incentive-laden deal.

Where would Damon fit? How about centerfield? Yes, I know the issues with the pop-gun arm, however Damon can still hit (.261/16/73 in 2011), and with the presence of Andres Torres off the bench, it’s possible to replace him defensively late in ballgames.

Is this a wild idea? He only played 4 games in center last year, and 38 since 2008. The last time he’s played centerfield full-time was in 2006. I guess it would be up to the kind of shape Damon is in and whether his body can hold up.

The more likely move is Damon signing a deal with an American League team where he could DH, as he makes his charge towards 3,000 hits. Damon needs 277 hits to reach that magic number that usually includes induction into Cooperstown- unless you’re Pete Rose or Rafael Palmeiro.

I have discussed this here before, but the closer Damon gets to 3,000, the more he his future candidacy will be debated. Damon is the prototypical compiler, as he’s never had a dominant stretch where he was the best in the league. He’s never been the best player in baseball or established an All-Star resume for any stretch. As a matter of fact, Damon made the All-Star team only twice in 17 seasons. His overall OPS+ is 105; slightly above league average, but it’s been helped with his offensive performance the last 4 years as a Designated Hitter.

However, Bill Chuck over at Billy-Ball gives us some facts about Damon’s Hall candidacy that provides a somewhat more compelling case.

1. Johnny Damon has 4146 total bases and 231 homers making him one of 15 players all-time with over 4100 total bases and less than 250 homers. Of the 15, 13 are in the Hall, Pete Rose and Derek Jeter (4430 TB – 240 homers) are not.

2. Only two players in baseball history have over 400 steals, 100 triples, and 200 homers: Paul Molitor (504 steals, 114 triples, and 234 homers) and Damon (404 steals, 107 triples, and 231 homers).

3. Damon has 516 doubles (43rd all-time), one more than Joe Cronin and seven fewer than Willie Mays, eight fewer than Ken Griffey Jr., and nine fewer than Ted Williams.  Damon now has the 17th most homers (231) all-time for batters with at least 100 triples (he has 107). The leader may surprise you: Babe Ruth had 136 triples to go along with his 714 homers.

4. Over the last 10 seasons only three players, who qualified have for the batting title, have struck out less than 100 times each season: Ichiro Suzuki,Albert Pujols, and Johnny Damon.

5. Only five players over 35 stole at least 10 bases in 2011: Ichiro (40 steals), Bobby Abreu (21), Johnny Damon (19), Derek Jeter (16), and Jamey Carroll, each the thieves were 37 years old. BTW: There were only eight players in 2011 who had at least 15 homers, 25 doubles, five triples, 15 steals, and 70 RBI and Damon was one of them.

6. Damon has 231 homers, 2723 hits, 516 doubles, and 1643 runs scored. Only 13 Hall of Famers have had numbers that include 2700+ hits, 200+ homers, 500+ doubles, and have scored 1600+ runs:

7. Johnny Damon is the only active player with 100+ triples, 200+ homers, 500+ doubles, and 1000+ RBI, and only one of a dozen players all-time. Some of those names included Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, and George Brett.

Personally, Damon will go down as a very good component player on contending teams. Regardless of hit total, I would not support his Hall of Fame candidacy. This might be the debate that finally gets the BBWAA to re-evaluate their arbitrary Hall of Fame benchmarks.

Where does playing centerfield for the Mets help? If he could be healthy enough to produce the kind of numbers he did last season in Tampa, while playing a premium outfield position on a regular basis, it could leave a positive last impression on his career. That might legitimatize a very good career; especially if there are more PED-revelations on some first-ballot candidates who are eligible the next five years.

I doubt the Mets or Damon would be interested in a union. As I mentioned, Damon most likely needs significant time at the DH-spot to reach his 3,000-hit goal. Last season he collected 152 hits with that formula; two more like that and he is “Mr. 3,000,” and catapulted into a fun debate.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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8 Responses to A Possible Future HOF Available to Mets on the Cheap

  1. Evan

    “There were only eight players in 2011 who had at least 15 homers, 25 doubles, five triples, 15 steals, and 70 RBI and Damon was one of them.”

    Good job cherry picking meaningless stats. You do this throughout this article and it is very annoying.

  2. Mike Silva


    Didn’t say I agree, take that up with Bill Chuck, it was his work over at Billy-Ball.

  3. Stu B

    How are those stats meaningless, Evan?

  4. mister d

    The stats themselves aren’t meaningless, but the context they are put in is. By saying there were only 8 players to reach those fairly mediocre benchmarks implies it is some remarkable achievement, but it isn’t. Chaining together a group of 5 statistics with arbitrary benchmarks, and its easy to create a random group of “select” players.

    It may be that Johnny Damon will end up in the Hall (though I’m not in favor), but the 38 year old Johnny Damon that will play in 2012 will not have anything close to a Hall of Fame season. It won’t be a bad move, but it would be sad if the Mets organization tried to sell the move as bringing in a potential Hall of Famer.

  5. Stu B

    True enough, mister d.

  6. Johnny Boy

    Hey man he was an all-start TWICE in 2002 and 2005. Maybe you should check your facts first before blogging….

  7. Stu B

    Hey man he was an all-star, not an all-start. Maybe you should check your spelling when taking others to task for what they write.

  8. Mike Silva

    Johnny Boy

    I appreciate you pointing out my mistake; I did research this piece, and used stats from Baseball-Reference. I don’ see how my “mistake” changes whether Damon is a HOF - do you? Does 2 versus 1 All Star appearance make a difference?

    Are you Johnny Damon? LOL

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