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Monday, February 22, 2010
After weeks of posturing and rumors, Johnny Damon has finally signed with the Detroit Tigers. The deal is for one-year, $8 million dollars with none of the monies deferred. While Damon will easily be “worth” the contract in terms of WAR, it seems strange that the Tigers paid that much given the lack of market and dollars out there. Nonetheless, Damon and his love for squids can enjoy a few Red Wings home games.
Damon is coming off a year in which he tied his career high in home runs (24) and posted a career best ISO (.207). These numbers are a little elevated thanks to his former home ball park, the new Yankee Stadium. In an indirect switch of roles and teams with Curtis Granderson, Damon’s new digs at Comerica are less friendly. Granderson, on the other hand, should see a similar benefit at Yankee Stadium as Damon did.
Even if Damon regresses in the power category he is still a very useful player. His career slugging percentage of nearly .440 shows he has always had home run pop. A career .288 hitter, Damon is likely to be in that .280 area once again. He will likely lead off for the Tigers and that means more plate appearances.
In 2009, Damon walked 11.3% of the time. This is yet another career high. However, unlike the power numbers, an older, wiser Damon is likely to take his fair share of walks which will help his on-base percentage.
Damon, 36, is not getting faster. His speed score dipped below 6.0 for the first time in his 15-year-career. In addition to the drop in speed score, Damon stole just 12 bases. This is also a career low for a full season. While his speed is dropping, Damon is still an efficient base runner. He scored high marks in the 2010 Bill James annual and was not caught stealing at all in 2009 (12 for 12).
The addition of Damon likely shifts Austin Jackson towards the bottom of the lineup and presents Jim Leyland with some line-up shuffling opportunities. Damon is just the latest named added to an already crowded outfield corps that includes: Jackson, Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Clete Thomas and Ryan Raburn.
I would expect the power numbers to decline and I doubt Damon goes back to stealing 30 bases again. That said, his batting average is solid. His new affinity for walks is a plus and he’ll likely drive in 75 runs in a talented lineup. While I like the man he’s replacing (Granderson) a lot more, I think Damon at .280-15-75 is still a decent option in the mid to early double digit rounds.
Posted by Tommy Rancel at 4:45am
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