Damon ≠ Granderson
In a piece written for Fantasy Baseball purposes, Troy Patterson compares former Yankee, Johnny Damon, to his “replacement,” to new Yankee, Curtis Granderson, and finds that while Damon might have had better overall numbers in his peak years, the two are currently similar – he calls them “clones” – in terms of offensive production given Damon’s declining skills. Patterson writes, Granderson “would be behind Damon in runs, steals and batting average in their prime, but now it’s much closer,” though he does acknowledge that Granderson’s innate power, which will be ultimately supplemented by the move to Yankee Stadium, is a valuable asset that may separate the two outfielders.
Speaking of Yankee Stadium-driven power, I think Patterson fails to acknowledge the extent to which Damon’s offensive decline might have been lessened had he stayed in the Bronx in 2010 and beyond, creating a larger gap in expected production between he and Granderson. Believe it or not but, despite all the talk about Damon’s power at home, the 36-year old actually had more power on the road for the majority of his Yankee tenure. From 2006-08, Damon hit .276/.365/.427 at home while hitting .296/.358/.467 away. Only when he entered the new Yankee Stadium did Damon truly come to love the short porch, as he hit .279/.382/.533 in the Bronx and only .284/.349/.446 on the road (this may seem like an outlier, but his .332 BABIP on the road suggests that this line might be indicative of a future decline). His home run to fly ball rate at home stood at a robust 16.5% in 2009 (in ’08 it was 8.3%, ’07 6.3%, ’06 13.1%), though his career rate is 9.4%. The new Yankee Stadium helped Damon enormously and, if he were slated to continue playing in the Bronx, I think his career would have been prolonged by the park’s comfortable climate.
If Damon heads to cavernous Comerica Park, his numbers, and power numbers, in particular, will experience a dramatic drop-off. He will be a lesser player. Patterson, in my opinion, understates this aspect of Damon’s decline in his piece (to him the decline is strictly age-based). Conversely, Curtis Granderson should gain a nice boost from the change in venues, as his career numbers at home – .261/.334/.451 – have been much worse than his numbers on the road – .284/.353/.516 – and the short porch which beckoned Damon will ultimately call Granderson’s name, as well. Therefore, while they are similar, I would be hesitant to label Damon and Granderson “clones,” as Patterson does.
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