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Johnny Damon still thinks he can “outhit at least half the league”

Jul 4, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT

Image (1) johnny%20damon%203.jpg for post 3591

Last week, we learned that Johnny Damon is still holding out hope for an offer to join a major league club even though he’s now 40 years old and hasn’t played since the end of August 2012. Damon hasn’t tempered his desire to continue his playing career, as the Associated Press reports that the veteran is staying in shape and swinging the bat.

In a fit of either bravado or delusion, Damon says that he can still “outhit at least half the league”.

“When you feel you can still outhit at least half the league and you don’t get that call, it’s rough,” Damon told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday. “The biggest reason to play is to have a chance to win. Obviously, 3,000 hits would be great but winning is the reason I started playing this game. I’m going to continue to stay in shape and I’ll be ready.”

Over five months in 2012, Damon posted an adjusted OPS (also known as OPS+) of 72. 100 is average, so Damon was 28 points below the league average. Only 38 players came to the plate at least 200 times that season and posted a lower adjusted OPS than Damon. Damon’s wRC+ (a metric like OPS+ that uses more accurate component stats) was 71, putting him ahead of only 45 hitters out of 347 in total (or about 13 percent of the field).

Add two years of age following a two-year layoff? The odds of Damon out-hitting half the league are quite small. Since 1901, only 40 hitters have qualified for the batting title at the age of 40 or older and posted an adjusted OPS of 100 or better. 20 of those 25 hitters are Hall of Famers or were on the ballot (or were Pete Rose).

  1. thomas844 - Jul 4, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    I’m not so sure he outhit half the league even in his prime.

    • Kevin S. - Jul 4, 2014 at 6:13 PM

      Nah, he did. Prime Johnny Damon was a pretty quality hitter.

      • lenbias34pt - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:20 AM

        Damon was a good hitter in his day, but a 284 Career average and limited power is all he was…….for a leadoff hitter he was below average most years despite the huge talent that he normally had hitting behind him.
        He was an average defender with a rag. Certainly more than a few reasons why Damon is well out of the league.

        It’s just sad that he can’t let his average career go. . . . . but most can’t.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        That pretty severely understates what he did, which in his prime involved getting on base at a high clip, being a largely effective base-stealer, and hitter for a moderate amount of power, all while playing a premium position. His career averages don’t look great because he took a couple years to get going and was mediocre after leaving the Yankees, but from ’99-’09 he was a really good player.

    • rje49 - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:15 PM

      He could probably out hit most of the Red Sox right now.

      • tigersfandan - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:27 PM

        True dat. There’s only one .300 hitter on that entire team.

    • boogerhill - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:44 PM

      That’s why they are beating down your door for your services, chief!

  2. Kevin S. - Jul 4, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    LOL Johnny. The reason you don’t have a job is because you chased hits at the expense of good plate appearances, getting yourself out too easily because you saw a walk as a negative, not a positive. You had a damn fine career, but let’s not end it in bitter delusion.

  3. chinahand11 - Jul 4, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    Is he broke? Maybe I would feel the same way, maybe I would be a little bitter, but I would be careful to lay it out like that in the press. Not a good look. He was a fun ballplayer, though.

    • lenbias34pt - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      Great call………….”not a good look”

  4. joestemme - Jul 4, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    Johnny. Please do yourself a favor and bow out gracefully.

    You had your run.

  5. yahmule - Jul 4, 2014 at 6:41 PM

  6. tfbuckfutter - Jul 4, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    104 career OPS+.

    So….he BARELY outhit half the league over his entire career.

  7. 4d3fect - Jul 4, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    Aww, isn’t he charming?

  8. chill1184 - Jul 4, 2014 at 6:57 PM

  9. tigerprez - Jul 4, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    If Damon was willing to swallow his pride and go play for the Long Island Ducks (or some other indie league team), he might be able to show he has something left. He can’t expect a major league contract to fall in his lap after a two-year layoff.

  10. humbug668 - Jul 4, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    He should have a job. When the Nationals are throwing the likes of Greg Dobbs and Frandsen out there to pinch hit, hard to think Damon wouldn’t be a better option for the league minimum.

  11. renaado - Jul 4, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    Hey Damon, you can still play for the LG Twins…

    • rivermaya99 - Jul 4, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      Helo Renaado it’s me, I joined Baseball site this!

    • aresachaela - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:26 AM

      WTF!? You knew this guy??

      • renaado - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:15 AM

        Just probably someone who I introduced the game of Baseball with… Don’t mind him that much if I were you.

      • aresachaela - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:25 AM

        OMG… Is he a Redsox fan or a Cubs fan?

      • aresachaela - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        Tell your “friend” to take grammar lessons if he have some time too, cause the way I look at his comments… It’s more like coming from an elementary student LOL XD!!

  12. Trevor_P - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    To be fair, half of all baseball players ARE pitchers.

    • yahmule - Jul 4, 2014 at 11:15 PM

      Shhh, Johnny think he’s being tricky.

  13. Old Gator - Jul 4, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    I can see taking a chance on him if they established a 10th position for a short left fielder. That way, he could throw as far as the second baseman on the fly.

  14. whatacrocker - Jul 4, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    If “the league” is my recreational softball league then, yeah, probably.

  15. jaredwmoore - Jul 4, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    He could probably outhit Alfonso Soriano

  16. mikhelb - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:16 AM

    or were Pete Rose… baaaahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

  17. csbanter - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:39 AM

    I think the Yanks who are offensively challenged would have called Damon by now. Instead they had him in for old timers day. Damon is starting to come off bitter.

  18. ashoreinhawaii - Jul 5, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    I lost respect for him when he left the Sox – and no, not of fan of the Bosox – with the old it’s-not-about-the-money line. Said Sox offer didn’t show him any respect. Yea, it did, but the Yanks – again, no a fan – offered more money/years and he took it. Just say, yea, I took the bucks.

  19. petuck624 - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    Johnny was on 98.7 The Fan in Tampa today talking about it. He also said that Tampa Bay was his favorite place to play. http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2014/07/05/johnny-damon-says-he-can-still-play/

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