Blog Entry

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

Posted on: April 15, 2011 1:12 pm


By Evan Brunell

While Johnny Damon is currently busy trying to get the Rays back to .500 (and helped that goal by bashing hit No. 2,581 for a walk-off home run Thursday night), he's also thinking about the Hall of Fame and what cap he would wear, pointing to the Royals. Yes, the Royals.

"Is it realistic? Yes," Damon told the Kansas City Star about making the Hall. "Is it the most important thing to me? No. The numbers would be great to attain, but I really don’t know how many more years I’ll play. If this is a rough year for me, I’m going home. If not, I’ll keep getting after it."

Despite Damon's strong credentials, it appears as if though he'll need 3,000 hits to have a real shot at the Hall, given none of his other numbers stand out. To be steady for such a long time like Damon has requires a tremendous amount of durability, patience and talent. But Damon doesn't have enough star-power numbers to qualify for the Hall unless he cracks 3,000 hits which doesn't seem feasible.

"It stinks that [3,000 hits] might be my only chance, because I’m climbing the runs list, too," Damon said. "I think all of those years I did it quietly without really thinking about my numbers."

Damon currently has 2,581 hits, 487 doubles, 218 homers, 100 triples, 388 stolen bases and 1,568 runs scored. The run total is behind only Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez among active players and ranks 51st overall. That means Damon could become the first player to have 3,000 hits, 500 doubles, 100 triples, 250 homers and 400 stolen bases in baseball history.

Over his 17-season career, Damon has averaged 183 hits a season. If he can stay within that average, which would come out to a .287 career batting average, he would reach 3,000 hits sometime in 2013 -- provided he remained a starter. It's not impossible to envision that occurring, as despite his age, Damon is still a solid contributor with the bat and brings tremendous value to a club with his leadership.

If he does reach those numbers, the Hall would be a virtual lock. What's less of a lock is what cap he wears into the Hall of Fame. “I think it goes by the longest tenure, so it would be Kansas City,” Damon told the Boston Herald.

Damon is actually incorrect, as players get input on what cap they will wear. In the past, players were able to choose but cannot any longer, thanks to the Wade Boggs contract clause with the Rays that stipulated he pick the Tampa Bay cap when entering the Hall despite just two years tenure with the club. 

Damon doesn't have any particular team that jumps out for representation on his cap. You can rule out the Athletics and Tigers, as he only spent one year with those clubs. The Rays, likewise, can be ruled out because he is in the tail end of his career and won't have the impact he did on earlier clubs, plus it's difficult to see him starting for Tampa for four years.

That leaves a six-year tenure in Kansas City and two separate four-year stints with the Red Sox and Yankees. Despite spending six years with K.C., the club did not accomplish much in his time. No, the cap is likely going to come down to Boston and New York.

The case for Boston is that he was a cult hero with his Caveman-like beard, was an architect of converting the clubhouse from 25 cabs, 25 people to a tight-knit group and delivered a hit for the ages with his crushing blow against the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS when his grand slam sealed Boston's improbable comeback.

Of course, Damon is reviled in Boston these days as he once said he would never sign with the Yankees and then did so just months later. He would compound matters later by declining to be traded to the Red Sox late last season, but there has still been a noticeable thaw in treatment by Red Sox fans, if Tampa's two-game set last week in Boston was any indication.

Damon was a hit in New York as well, as he helped heal a fractured clubhouse and brought a World Series to town as an important top-of-the-order presence who also enjoyed some of his best power numbers thanks to the short right-field wall. But he didn't have the cult following as he did in Boston and while that World Series was much-welcomed by the city, an eight-year drought doesn't compare to excising an 86-year-old drought.

It's anyone's guess what hat Damon requests to wear, but if he requests the Royals, that will be enough to vault the club into contention with Boston and New York. The early money has to be Boston given he became a national name, a cult hero and an indelible part of Red Sox history.

Things could change if he returns to K.C., however. If Damon returned to town, that could push K.C. over the edge to represent Damon in the Hall if he was elected

“Kansas City is the team I grew up rooting for,” Damon said. “I had almost six years there. I put up some good numbers. I’d love to end my career in Tampa, but if had to go back to Kansas City for a year to finish my career, I’d welcome that, too."

If Damon did return to K.C., even if it was just as a bench player to play his career out, it could be enough to get a Royals hat on Damon. But more importantly, Damon actually does appear as if he could be a great fit for a Royals squad that will be rather green the next few years. Damon has an impeccable reputation for his impact on keeping a team together and the clubhouse loose -- but also being extraordinarily professional with a strong work ethic and desire to win. All these traits would be incredibly valuable to a Royals team looking to integrate the game's best farm system into the majors over the next two-to-three years.

All that said, it's going to be very difficult for Damon to make the Hall of Fame, and unless he can last long enough to hit some significant milestones, will instead belong in the Hall of the Very Good.

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Since: Nov 23, 2010
Posted on: April 17, 2011 3:13 pm

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: April 17, 2011 10:39 am

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

Well, it's like this...if you are a favorite of the media and have good stats, you probably will get into the hall of fame. If Johnny Damon plays this year plus two more, he just might make 3000 hits...should he be in there? Who he any better than Roberto Alomar...what about Jim Rice. Alomar got in, although he should have been a first ballot inductee. If you keep playing for 20 years, you can't help but get good stats if you play every day. Damon can only make it on his offensive stats, because he is a very below average outfielder.

Since: Oct 2, 2007
Posted on: April 17, 2011 1:11 am

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

Iv'e notices a lot of people here have brought up the topic of longevity of a players career which gives them the time to rack up numbers other players have put up in shorter periods of time and I can agree with this to a point.  ndasosa brings up a point about Alomar being one of best second basemen of his time while Damon was a liability in the outfield and this is very true.  G_baseballfan also brings up the point of longevity as well fan favorites and biases for those players who are borderline H of Famers who happen to play for winning teams.  I will not deny that this happens and has allowed some players to slide safely into the Hall, just barley.  With Damon he is one of these borderline players who can be in or out with the flip of a coin except for one thing.   If Damon can get to 3000 hits he is automatic for the Hall,hands down! The 3000 mark has always been a number that means entry into the Hall.  In todays MLB players are able to play longer with the help of science(not steroids but protein shakes and healthier foods..etc) ,workouts, and overcoming injuries that in the past meant an end to a career.    I think the voters need to start looking at whats happening with the numbers in modern MLB as indicators for entrance to the Hall and stop looking at past numbers of Hall inductees.  I think Damon still gets in with 3000 hits since there are only 27 players who have done so but just like home runs when 400 meant you were in has now gone up to 500 as the number voters look at 3000 hits will also have to go up. Bottom line is that Damon is in if he can get to 3000.

Since: Jun 11, 2009
Posted on: April 16, 2011 9:45 pm

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

Alomar was also the best defensive second baseman for many years, whereas Damon was always a liability in the OF with his non arm.

Since: Sep 8, 2010
Posted on: April 16, 2011 8:34 pm

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

Well the HOF has in some cases become the Hall of Very Good For a Long Time But Rarely Great.
As long as so many focus completely on counting stats i.e. Hits/R/HR being very good for a long time gets you into the conversation.  Hopefully most we'll come to realize that RBI is a terrible stat.  It's much more about opportunity, place in a batting order, and quality of the players ahead of you.  SB is an ok stat but most great base stealers can't do that later in their careers (or shouldn't).  I'd rather see something like number of seasons with 25+ SB and number of seasons with 40+ ... in addition to the total.
Things like HR/AB, OBP are better.  Runs is a tough one ... but play long enough near the top of orders and they'll get up there in total.  As much as AVG can be a tough one, given enough years even guys with a low average can accumulate near 3000 hits.  (And why exactly do we have to set these bars at such round numbers like 3000?  What's wrong with 2950?)  Even more advanced stats like WOBA are better measures but most don't have a grasp of what a good WOBA looks like.on
Things like All Star appearances should count for something (although sometimes players get saddled with being 3rd best or not popular enough ... how many AS appearances does Jeter have that are more based on who he his rather than what he did?).  MVP voting is probably a bit less popularity based ... but you do get dinged if you don't play for a winner.  (Damon had 4 MVP finishes in the top 20 ... albiet 13,15,16,19 ... 3 of those years he doesn't make the AS team.  One other year he's a AS but no MVP consideration ... 2002 first year in Boston ... think the fans affected that vote?)
Tim Raines is always considered bubble material but he has 7 straight AS appearances and MVP finishes of 19,5,11,12,6,7,17 ... and a silver slugger.  His production trailed off in the twilight of his career (well at least that AB's did).  I don't know if that was in part or whole due to injury.
In all though ... there are a number of guys that are IN who probably shouldn't be.  They won't kick them out.  The veterans committee will keep on voting in the fringy guys.  Even so, the way the regular vote is done ... if you go up against some real giants (all based on when they retired and when you did) you have less of a chance.  If you are going up against lesser competition your chances go up.
Maybe they just should open a Hall of Very Good wing, move the "very good" guys in the current hall there, and let guys like Damon aspire for that.  I'd be for seeing some the the driftwood extracted out of the real giants of the game that should be in the HOF.

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: April 16, 2011 11:00 am

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame could do far worse.....and they acutually have..... based on who casts the ballots
and how they voted over the years. If the Hall wants to push towards a player of credibility and one
who is a credit to the game then Johnny would be a good choice. I don't know of any black marks.

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, I feel there should be a new HOF somewhere whereby voting is done
by the people and those that actually pay to see a game. All these sports writers really remind me of
Robert Duvall's character in "The Natural".....out to get a popular player...what ever it takes.

If the people voted, I'd bet you'd see a completely different that is important to the people with an
emphasis on how the game itself is/was played aka Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe etc instead of some writer
who is an appointed or somehow believes he's an expert of the game.

Since: Feb 21, 2008
Posted on: April 16, 2011 8:34 am

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

Damon is a fine player, but not a Hall of Famer.  The Hall has gotten so watered down of late, it's becoming a bit of a joke.

Since: Oct 2, 2007
Posted on: April 15, 2011 8:19 pm

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

Playing in the A.L. where the DH role extends a player the chance to play a few extra years which might help them achieve certain numbers that will help them get into the Hall OF Fame and there is nothing wrong with that. Career longevity is not a reason to keep a player out of the HoF. Damon is 419 hits away from 3000 and with this year and the next two Damon has a really good chance of reaching the 3000 hits mile stone and that alone will get him into the Hall.  Out of the 27 players who are in the 3000 Hits Club only three are not in the Hall Of Fame, Pete Rose for the obvious reasons we all know about, Rafael Palmeiro because of steroids and Craig Biggio.  Biggio has 3060 hits retiring June of 2007 and when his time comes he will be a first ballet guy easily.  So if Damon can get to 3000 hits he will be a first ballet guy as well and as for which teams cap he will wear I think it would be a RedSox or K.C. hat.  I am a Yankee fan and would like to see him wear a Yankee cap but I do agree with Brunell that Damon had more of an impact with the RedSox and as far as K.C, well thats more of a nostalgic situation that would trump Damon's four year stint with the Yankees. I'm pulling for him to get those last 419 hits to get in and it does not hurt that Damon was a class act his whole career and that all his teammates have nothing bad to say about him.  After the steroid era it's nice to have a player such as Damon make it in!

Since: Jan 12, 2011
Posted on: April 15, 2011 5:17 pm

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

That's my point exactly with Roberto, I feel the HOF pushes themselves every year to induct someone in and I feel some years there's not a worthy player.  but then you get these "non-worthy" players in that opens the door for the 2nd tier players with similiar stats.

Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: April 15, 2011 5:04 pm

Damon has eye on Hall of Fame

Since when does being in the Majors for 17-20 years make you a Hall of Famer?  I thought you either had to have outstanding numbers, or have been the very best at your position for an extended period of time during your career.  His numbers aren't great, his career batting average is average, his home runs barely exist, he only had 200 hits one season, never 100 RBI's, his steals for a 17 year career aren't great either.  Longevity alone shouldn't open the door for you.

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