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Why doesn’t Johnny Damon have a job? Because he wants 3000 hits

Feb 14, 2012, 10:58 AM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

At least that’s what Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reporting:

… executives from three teams that had interest in Damon expressed concerns a fixation with 3,000 has diminished an attribute that greatly contributed to the perception of Damon as a winning player: patient, tough at-bats. And statistics appear to confirm the criticism.

Sherman notes — via citation to FanGraphs, which is nice to see — that Damon has been swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone and that pitchers are throwing him fewer pitches in the zone as a result.

Frankly, if Damon can’t draw a lot of walks, he’s not very useful to anyone.

  1. Chris St. John - Feb 14, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    I posted something about this on The Process Report (RIP) last June. Damon’s contact, walk rate and line drive rate were down, while his swing rate was up: here (http://www.theprocessreport.com/2011/06/01/stability-check-contact-percentage/index.html) and here (http://www.theprocessreport.com/2011/06/21/stability-check-strikeout-rate-line-drive-rate-pitches-per-plate-appearance/index.html)

  2. proudlycanadian - Feb 14, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    I guess that Damon is out of the mix with The Yankees.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      From your lips (or fingertips) to god’s ears! Johnny is not a bad player at this point, but the Yankees need something very specific and he is not it.

      In the meantime, Russel Branyan just issued this statement to all of the RHP in the AL:

      “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.”

      • uyf1950 - Feb 14, 2012 at 11:35 AM

        Great, great movie and a great one sided exchange on the phone with the kidnapper.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 14, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    So they’re saying that they’re losing interest because he’ll cheapen his discipline to get as many hits as possible before he’s too old? Isn’t this what good hitting coaches are for?

    Come to the Cubs, Johnny. Rudy Jaramillo won’t put up with that crap.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 14, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      Stupid comments not posting for like the first hour after I write them.

  4. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 14, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    So, teams are worried about Damon because his desire for 3,000 hits will make him cheapen his plate discipline to get as many hits as possible before he’s too old? Isn’t this what good hitting coaches are for?

    Come to the Cubs, Johnny. Rudy Jaramillo won’t put up with that crap.

  5. aleskel - Feb 14, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    I would also guess that playing time commitments would factor into this – most managers would feel pressured to give Johnny “Good Teammate” Damon more ABs than he deserves.

  6. Matt Bandi - Feb 14, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    The numbers Sherman is using from FanGraphs are pretty questionable. They are measured via video review. In other words, someone is just watching the television broadcast to determine how frequently Damon is swinging outside the zone. The league average has increased pretty dramatically (and suspiciously) the past few years, so the fact that Damon’s percentage has increased may just be due to measurement error. Here are his numbers compared to league average.

    2009 Damon 23.2%
    2009 Average 25.1%
    2010 Damon 28.6%
    2010 Average 29.3%
    2011 Damon 31.3%
    2011 Average 30.6%

    FanGraphs also has the same information, as measured by PITCHf/x. Damon still shows an increase when using that method, but it is not nearly as dramatic.

    2009 Damon 25.3%
    2009 Average 27.6%
    2010 Damon 27.0%
    2010 Average 28.0%
    2011 Damon 27.8%
    2011 Average 28.6%

    • drmonkeyarmy - Feb 14, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      What, somebody using questionable data to support a preconceived opinion….that never happens. :)

    • The Rabbit - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      The league average has increased pretty dramatically (and suspiciously) the past few years
      I follow way too many games watching PITCHf/x live and have seen the trend; however, I have possible explanations to offer.
      First, umpiring. I have no data. I’ve just noticed that the strike zone for some of the HP umpires doesn’t come close to the f/x strike zone. Batters are forced to hack at pitches outside the zone and hope for the best if they are going to be called as strikes anyway.
      Another possibility-The cutter or splitter. Are there more pitchers using those pitches? Are the hitters and/or umpires completely fooled? I don’t know the answer. I’m just asking the questions.

  7. havlicekstoletheball - Feb 14, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Well, to be honest, Damon doesn’t have a lot of suitors because he couldn’t hit the pitcher’s mound with a throw from second base. He has gone from a pretty good defender (excellent speed, lousy arm) to a glaring reliability (diminished speed, virtually no arm), and if he isn’t a disciplined hitter at the plate, he is a hat rack.

    He isn’t a small guy, and had pretty good hands as an outfielder. I always wondered why he didn’t make a more concerted effort to play first base.

    • havlicekstoletheball - Feb 14, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Er, “glaring LIABILITY….” Stupid decaf!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      Damon doesn’t have a lot of suitors because he couldn’t hit the pitcher’s mound with a throw from second base.

      What are you talking about? It only took two cutoff men (skipping a third) for this throw to reach home plate!

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 14, 2012 at 2:14 PM

        May some team could play Damon AND Manny in LF. If they are both out there, they could probably combine to perform like an average LF.

  8. RickyB - Feb 14, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    It seems to me that most aging players tend to cheat more on pitches just to catch up with fastballs (see Bernie Williams). Instead of claiming that he is merely swinging out of the zone more to get to 3,000 hits, it could merely be a step in the aging of a baseball player. Nothing more. Which is good enough reason not to sign him. Don’t peg him as a selfish player when another more logical answer is much more likely.

  9. aceshigh11 - Feb 14, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Maybe it’s because of the silly haircuts and simian visage.

  10. tommyrob4780 - Feb 15, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    as a redsox fan i would love 2 have him back just cause he is a clutch hitter but i don’t think he will but never no

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