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Johnny Damon brought swagger ... unless anyone was on base

Every weekday between now and mid-November, we'll be looking closer at a Tigers player. For more information on the series, including a schedule, please check this post out.

Where do you even start on Johnny Damon? He brought his star power to Detroit in March. He took the largest share of the plate appearances in the No. 2 slot in the Tigers' batting order, and helped the Tigers by getting on base often enough to give Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera a chance to drive in some runs. Yet you can't help but feel some disappointment in his season. Even if you acknowledged before the year began his home run stroke would not be the same playing half his games in Comerica Park, you had to feel a little let down. (Partially because he hit even poorer away from home than he hit at it.)

Still, I feel like he brought a little lost swagger to the team and gave it some personality. The Tigers were just a half-game out of first at the All-Star break, and I feel like Damon gets some credit for that.

Bottom line? I enjoyed Damon's time in Detroit, but it's best for the team that he will be moving on in 2011.

C

At the plate:

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2010 36 DET AL 145 613 539 81 146 36 5 8 51 11 1 69 90 .271 .355 .401 .756 106
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/13/2010.

If there's one thing Damon did well, it's get on base. It's important to remember that's the role he was asked to play on this team. He batted second, and had a well above-average on-base percentage of .355 to show for it. When he led off the inning, that ballooned all the way to .438. Damon clearly played his role well.

Now, it's a good thing he was good at that role, because his numbers with runners on base were pretty bad. He hit just 1-for-14 (.071) with bases loaded, and with runners on base he hit 31-for-148 (.207). In scoring position with two out? He hit .175.

Either as a left fielder (where he played most in the outfield) or DH, Damon's overall stats were about average to slightly above average.

In the field:

Damon started in the field just 35 games, compiling about 268 innings. By UZR, he was a couple of runs above-average as an outfielder. But with those limited numbers, UZR probably doesn't tell us anything we can have a lot of confidence in. The eye says he wasn't as bad as an outfielder as advertised, but he wasn't racking up a lot of positives either.

What 2010 tells us about 2011:

Damon showed he still possesses the skills necessary to hit near the top of the order in some lineups, or possibly as a role-player in a contender's lineup. Due to his age, the power numbers are probably not going to be too great again. I think he's got value, but isn't what the Tigers need in 2011.

Resources:

I used Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs and ESPN.com for this article.