Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Johnny Damon Hall of Fame Watch

I wrote about this prior to the 2010 season, and it's a good time to look at it again.  In 2010, Damon had a mediocre season, but not completely unexpected considering his age.  He hit .271 with only 8 HR (compared to 24 in 2009), but he did have a somewhat respectable 81 runs in his only season with the Tigers. In the offseason, he signed a 1 year deal with the Rays and he's been even worse this season (.248, 18 R), although his 7 HR is impressive.

He appears to be on the decline, but he's still only 37 (although with 2300+ G and 10000+ PA, that is a lot of wear and tear).  He has over 2600 H, which is great, but not even close to the magical 3000 number.  He has a lot of impressive stats: 222 HR, 390 SB, .287 BA.  On the other hand, he's only been an All-Star twice and has never finished higher than 13th in MVP balloting.  You can easily look at that and conclude that he's not a Hall of Famer. 

There is one stat, though, where he shines a little brighter than you might expect: runs scored.  With his 1582 runs scored, he's 49th on the all time list and moving up the list quickly.  Almost everyone he passes on the way up the list now is in the Hall of Fame (he just passed Rogers Hornsby). 

The next 11 on the list? George Brett, Bill Dahlen, Ed Delahanty, Jake Beckley, Lou Brock, Roger Connor, Al Kaline, Fred Clarke, Paul Waner, Eddie Murray and Robin Yount.  All Hall of Famers, except for Bill Dahlen.  If Damon reached 1651 Runs scored (a realistic possibility if he plays next year), he would become 33rd on the all time list (right ahead of Joe Morgan). 

Out of the 32 that would be ahead of him, here is how is breaks down: 25 in HOF; 3 retired, not yet eligible (Biggio, Bonds, Griffey Jr.); 2 active (A-Rod, Jeter); Pete Rose; Rafael Palmeiro.  He couldn't do much better than that, but it still feels like he wouldn't get in.  That result might make sense in light of him never finishing higher than 13th in an MVP vote, but it doesn't make a lot of sense why everything would change if he had 3000 hits as opposed to 1650 runs scored.

There are 27 (soon to be 28 with Jeter at 2965 hits) players with 3000 hits and they're all in except for Biggio, Rose and Palmeiro.  Players have been getting into the HOF for accumulating huge amounts of some stats (wins, HR, hits) since it started.  It only makes sense than runs (which is ultimately what teams are trying to achieve) becomes a part of that too.  If he makes it to 1700 runs (a long way to go, but manageable), he'll be the 27th player into that group, and that should be enough. 

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