Damon and the M's

Rumor du jour, Johnny Damon.  Some M's fans wonder if he can help?


Take Carl Crawford, subtract some speed, add 30 walks, and offensively you've got Johnny Damon.  And how psyched would M's fans be about a Crawford deal?

Damon isn't an MVP candidate or anything, but he is an impact offensive player. 

Last year he averaged 6.8 runs created per 27 outs, as he did the year before.

Runs created per 27 outs:

  • 6.8 - Damon
  • 7.4 - Ichiro, #1 Mariner
  • 6.5 - Branyan, #2 (not a Mariner)
  • 4.9 - Gutierrez, #3
  • 4.7 - Griffey, #4
  • 4.2 - Lopez, #5

Every other Mariner in the starting lineup was below 3.9 per game.


It does not seem to have really sunk in with Mariner fans:  this ballclub has one, now two, good hitters.  Ichiro and Figgins.

This isn't a ballclub that can afford to be real picky about adding good hitters.


=== SSI Index ===

Crawford and Damon -- a side-by-side on Carl Crawford and Johnny Damon.  Right now Damon's a little better offensive player, though Crawford is the superior defender, or course.


Bill James' Strong Season Leading Index - Damon, like Chone Figgins and Ichiro, is among the ML players least likely to improve on 2009.

Indeed, the last two years at ages 34-35, Johnny Damon had his two best offensive seasons.

"Old player's skills" -- stalking his pitches and driving them harder -- are looking good on Johnny Damon.  He's hitting 20-25 homers a year now, is becoming a sort of Bobby Abreu in his old age.

It would be very intriguing to see whether age 36 caught up to Damon, or whether the player-park match won out.  It would be a whale of a contest.


Fielding - UZR is, as so often, all over the place on Damon:  +5 in 2007, even in 2008, -9 last year.  His range factors are fine.

Generally speaking, the fact that Damon can still play CF, implies to me that he's probably solid as a left fielder.  Damon still runs well and steals bases.  My guess is that Safeco's LF would make him look good.

He's the poster boy for noodle arm, of course.  Maybe he could master the 7-8-2 assist or something.


Scott Boras - Damon is represented by Boras, so you're not talking about a Bobby Abreu value deal here.

Because of the Boras factor, I would expect Damon to be a Seattle nonissue this winter. 

But if for some reason Damon cut the Mariners a deal, I'd be glad to have him.  That would make three good hitters, which is more than two.


Dr D


Anonymous's picture

That Bradley guy can hit a little too...

Anonymous's picture

Seems unfair to not factor in Milton Bradley - unless your leaving him out as he is not likely to see as many PA as the above guys


I've seen enough of Damon to know, without any question, that he's a TERRRRRIBLE defensive outfield now.  Horrible range, bad instincts, noodle arm.  He cost the Yankees about 6 runs in the post-season alone...I was counting.


His OPS+ was 99 last season.  We hope that (a) he'll hit and (b) he'll be on the field.
Ichiro and Figgins are certified BTA offensive players.  I'm optimistic that Bradley will put some runs up, too.


Johnny Damon would beat most 0.0 UZR left fielders by three strides in a 40-yard dash.  He *does* beat them by two strides in the 25-yard dash from 1B to 2B.
I could see his having questionable range.  But how does a CF/SB guy, playing LF, have "horrible" range relative to Manny, Raul, Jason Bay, and all the other LF's?


We've had this argument before re: Gutierrez and no one is going to change anyone else's mind.
I believe that speed is an important part of outfield defense but can be overridden by other factors in extreme cases.  Damon is among the worst route runners I've ever seen.  Ever.  The fact that he played CF doesn't prove he ever played it well...in fact he hasn't been an effective defensive CFer since 1999 according to my own research.  And it's not automatic that a below average CFer will always turn into a better left fielder...that's usually what happens, but for chronically stupid outfielders, the stupidity carries over...and from what I've seen of Damon...he's a stupid outfielder (characterized by bad jumps, bad routes and bad decisions on where to throw).

okdan's picture

Ok, but you characterized it as "horrible range". I don't think track speed = terrific outfielder. But I also don't think it makes it possible to have "horrible range".
For me, it's Damon's pathetic arm that kinda sours me pretty well on him. Oh, and the $13M salary...


So the 13 million is out and he's not going to get more than 8-10 mil per year and two years at his age and in this market.
But I think it is entirely possible for an outfielder to have decent time to first base and still be a bad outfielder.  Melky Cabrera, for example, has pretty solid times to first base and steals some bases, but is well understood to be among the worst defensive CFers in the game.


In 2009, the Yankees finished 3rd in the AL in DER - (.695 -- essentially tied for 2nd).
So, I want to hear the explanation of how a team with the worst defensive SS and the worst defensive CF and the worst defensive LF manages to beat every in the AL except the Ms and Texas.  I mean, to finish 2nd/3rd in DER, doesn't SOMEBODY have to be making plays?


Teixeira, Gardner, Swisher, Cano and Jeter (yes Jeter) were all above average fielders in '09...Jeter seems to have finally gotten annoyed enough with people ripping on his glove that he's working harder on ranging to his left and you don't see as many balls go past a diving Jeter into center field...whether that's permanent I don't know.
But in 2009, their DER was high because they got a career year out of Jeter with the glove and solid contributions at several other positions...there are probably other factors as well...UZR seems to think the Yankees were below average defensively (by 19 runs)...so there is a suggestion that the team had good pitching that was inducing a lot of flyballs and weak contact and that was helping the DER.

Taro's picture

No Johnny Damon please. Talk about overrated. UP year in a launchpad to boot, poor defensively, terrible arm. Gross is just as good and possibly better for 10-15% the price.
You'd have to offload Langerhans at this point if you want to add another OF (which I wouldn't mind honestly).

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