Yankees: Will Johnny Damon Make the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018?


Former Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon will be a first-time candidate on the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot next year. The problem is that he’s got some great company to contend with.

Before James Harden of the Houston Rockets made beards cool again, there was Johnny Damon. He and his scruffy-looking teammates in Bean Town broke the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ by winning the World Series Championship in 2004 before Damon took his talents to the Bronx, where his brilliant base running was a catalyst for the last great Yankees team of 2009.

But 2018 presents a whole new opportunity for the Orlando, Florida native. For the first time, Damon is eligible to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. As we know, a player must wait five full years after retiring before becoming eligible for enshrinement into Cooperstown.

This rule was enacted as a way of discouraging baseball writers from casting votes for active players — which occurred in 1945 when Joe DiMaggio received a single vote, though he was still six years away from calling it quits.

Unfortunately, this rule is just as antiquated as some of the BBWAA members who refuse to vote in a unanimous choice or wish away all the stats from the steroid era. Like Derek Jeter wasn’t a Hall of Famer the moment he stepped away from the game? Alas, this argument is better saved for another article.

During the span of Damon’s 18-year career, he was a two-time All-Star who finished with a .284 lifetime batting average, 2,769 hits, and 408 stolen bases (ranking him 67th all-time).

In 59 Postseason games, Damon hit 10 home runs and drove in 33 runs, while successfully stealing 13 out of 14 bases.

Though a beloved fan favorite and consummate clubhouse leader — on paper, it would appear Damon doesn’t possess the necessary stats to earn him a ticket to Cooperstown. A bigger concern for 2018, though, is the fact that there are a number of notable first-time candidates that one would think are immediate first-ballot enshrinees. They include Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Omar Vizquel.

Following up those legends are Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones who will get in, but it may take multiple tries. As for Kerry Wood, Chris Carpenter, Livan Hernandez, Jamie Moyer, and Johan Santana, the only shot they have at a Hall of Fame is a club specific one.

As for Damon, he falls somewhere in the middle of the pack — a very good Major Leaguer — one that drove the Yankees absolutely crazy as a member of the Royals, Athletics, and Red Sox. He was an excellent leadoff hitter who could work a count like nobodies business. Not to mention he covered the outfield like a blanket, it’s too bad he’d barely reach the infield with a throw.

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Quite simply, Johnny Damon was a winner — just not a Hall Of Famer. It looks like Yankees fans will have to wait until 2019 to have another one of their own grace the hallowed halls of baseball’s finest museum — he being Mariano Rivera.