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Damon: Is He Or Isn't He?

2011 seems to be the year of the Hall of Fame debate. Most recently, the candidacy of Jim Thome has been discussed and analyzed to within an inch of its life. I wrote a blog pointing out my feelings on that topic. The newest debate centers on a guy who has been around for 17 years, but much like Thome, has never been a superstar at any point in his career. Johnny Damon's Cooperstown worthiness is a hot topic these days, so here are my thoughts.

Damon has played for six teams in his career, beginning with Kansas City from 1995-2000. His most successful years were arguably the eight he spent between the Red Sox and Yankees, when he was a part of two World Series championship teams - Boston in 2004 and New York in 2009. He has always been a role player on great teams, often contributing at key moments. He was a borderline prolific basestealer early in his career and has more than 25 stolen bases in 10 of his 17 seasons. He is a career .286 hitter and has been a surprisingly consistent power hitter, recording fewer than 10 home runs in just four of his full seasons.

In my opinion, Damon is a Hall of Famer, but oddly enough, I don't think it will be any of the numbers listed above that will get him in. Much like Cal Ripken, Jr., I think Damon's most amazing statistic centers on his durability. He doesn't have the streak that Ripken had, but he reached a pretty interesting hallmark the other day. After playing in his 140th game of the ‘11 season, Damon celebrated the 16th consecutive season in which he accomplished that feat. Perhaps that consistency won't get him into Cooperstown on the first ballot, but in an age when injury and lack of production are commonplace among big leaguers, Damon has been the exception to that rule.

Another stat that will help is that, as I write this blog, Damon has recorded 2,715 hits in his career, meaning that he is just 285 hits away from the hallowed 3,000 mark. He would be just the 29th player in history to reach it, and if he can stay as healthy as he has been for another two or three seasons, he should get there with little trouble. While he may pale in comparison to the other names in that club, the fact remains that he will go down in history as one of the most reliable hitters the game has ever known.

As I said, I don't think Damon is the kind of legendary, no-doubt-about-it Hall of Famer that we have seen elected in recent years, but he should find a spot when it's all said and done. And for one of the nicest guys in baseball, it would validate all of the effort and time he has put into fashioning a nearly 20-year career in the Major Leagues.

Do you think Johnny Damon is a Hall of Famer? Tweet me @rwags614 and let me know.

2011 seems to be the year of the Hall of Fame debate. Most recently, the candidacy of Jim Thome has been discussed and analyzed to within an inch of its life. I wrote a blog pointing out my feelings on that topic. The newest debate centers on a guy who has been around for 17 years, but much like Thome, has never been a superstar at any point in his career. Johnny Damon's Cooperstown worthiness is a hot topic these days, so here are my thoughts.

Damon has played for six teams in his career, beginning with Kansas City from 1995-2000. His most successful years were arguably the eight he spent between the Red Sox and Yankees, when he was a part of two World Series championship teams - Boston in 2004 and New York in 2009. He has always been a role player on great teams, often contributing at key moments. He was a borderline prolific basestealer early in his career and has more than 25 stolen bases in 10 of his 17 seasons. He is a career .286 hitter and has been a surprisingly consistent power hitter, recording fewer than 10 home runs in just four of his full seasons.

In my opinion, Damon is a Hall of Famer, but oddly enough, I don't think it will be any of the numbers listed above that will get him in. Much like Cal Ripken, Jr., I think Damon's most amazing statistic centers on his durability. He doesn't have the streak that Ripken had, but he reached a pretty interesting hallmark the other day. After playing in his 140th game of the ‘11 season, Damon celebrated the 16th consecutive season in which he accomplished that feat. Perhaps that consistency won't get him into Cooperstown on the first ballot, but in an age when injury and lack of production are commonplace among big leaguers, Damon has been the exception to that rule.

Another stat that will help is that, as I write this blog, Damon has recorded 2,715 hits in his career, meaning that he is just 285 hits away from the hallowed 3,000 mark. He would be just the 29th player in history to reach it, and if he can stay as healthy as he has been for another two or three seasons, he should get there with little trouble. While he may pale in comparison to the other names in that club, the fact remains that he will go down in history as one of the most reliable hitters the game has ever known.

As I said, I don't think Damon is the kind of legendary, no-doubt-about-it Hall of Famer that we have seen elected in recent years, but he should find a spot when it's all said and done. And for one of the nicest guys in baseball, it would validate all of the effort and time he has put into fashioning a nearly 20-year career in the Major Leagues.

Do you think Johnny Damon is a Hall of Famer? Tweet me @rwags614 and let me know.