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Bernie Williams vs. Johnny Damon at the Plate
Friday, December 23, 2005
Poor Bernie has been at the center of much criticism this past year. He’s been disparaged for his ever-weakening throwing arm, his declining batting average…Over the past year Bernie has become viewed as some soft of albatross dragging the Yankees down both in the field and at the bat.

I beg to differ. Last year was his fifteenth season and he was still able to play in 141 games. His batting average was only .249, but he had 19 doubles and 12 home runs, and how many times has he come through in the clutch?

Now the Yanks have signed Damon, who has had a great career thus far. Boston fans loved him, Yankee fans coveted him, and now he’ll be in the Bronx for the next four years. He’s still young, just 32 right now, but will he be stealing 18 bases and hitting 30 doubles when he's 36? Doubtful.

Over at Sons of Sam Horn, an elitist BoSox forum, the writers put together this Bernie/Damon comparison that I found to be quite revealing.

As you can see, Bernie outdoes Damon at the plate. His career OPS is significantly hire than Damon's is (or ever will be). Bernie's hitting followed a very typical natural pattern: in his first years he struggled, improved steadily, then reached his peak at around 30 and slowly - but not drastically - began his decline. Damon, on the other hand, has been much more inconsistent. At 26 he hit a high note, but the very next year his OPS was down over 2 points. Every year since then has been up and down; his hitting seems to follow no natural pattern.

Damon is certainly talented and I am not down-playing that. However, his erratic slugging and batting averages (he hit .273 in 2003, then .316 in 2005) concern me. Do we really know what to expect in '06? With Bernie, his decline in stats is due to one factor: his age. He is an excellent athlete and even at his "worst" (2005) he still drove in 64 runs and had a better OBP than Damon did at 27. Let's all just say a collective secular prayer that Damon stays on the high he's been on for the past two years.


posted by Yankees Chick @ Friday, December 23, 2005  
  • At 3:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    WTF is OPS?

  • At 7:23 AM, Blogger yankeestadium said…

    We better HOPE he stays at the level he was at last year. I dont know if you heard the interview but he is really enthused to be here. He really wants to work hard and have fun. I think he will be a vital part of our team doing well, not just in the OPS or the slugging.

  • At 7:37 AM, Blogger Paul Katcher said…

    That's why it was so imperative to sign Bernie when he was a free agent after the 1998 season. The fear, at the time, was that Boston was going to make a play for him.

    I remember reading a quote from Peter Gammons comparing Bernie to Griffey -- before Junior would injure himself going to pick up the mail -- and he said, "The difference isn't as great as you'd think." And he was right. Bernie was a top-flight player, a true No. 3, 4 or 5 hitter for any team.

    But I love this deal. Lefties are never a bad idea at the Stadium, we've got some speed and smarts on the bases ahead of Jeter and A-Rod, and created a huge hole for a rival.

  • At 8:12 AM, Anonymous metsrtehsux0r said…

    OPS is On-base plus Slugging...

    It's probably the most important number when evaluating a hitter...

  • At 11:12 PM, Blogger Patrick Jason said…

    Johnny Damon's a bum! I'm so wicked pissed that he didn't resign with the 'Sox. Oh well, at least Nomah isn't playing for the Yanks this year, because then I'd be doubly wicked pissed.

  • At 12:02 AM, Blogger Darth Marc said…

    OPS is On base percentage plus slugging percentage....

    No question that Bernie for the long haul is the better player. Until injuries slowed him down, he was a borderline hall of famer...Damon is a different sort of player. It was getting painful watching Bernie at times out there. I think he's fine as a platoon guy at this stage. Just not an everyday guy.

    I'm cautiously optimistic about this move...caustiously.

  • At 6:55 AM, Blogger Travis said…

    Bernie's 2005 OPS ranked him 74th among the 80 MLB (both AL and NL) players to qualify for the batting title (502 plate appearances). That made him (obviously) the 7th worst regular hitter in the major leagues last year, and the second worst of 31 outfielders who qualified. (Seattle's Jeremy Reed ranked #31, but he's only 24 and should improve, whereas bernie will not.)

    While it's true that Bernie Williams' career OPS is higher than Damon's, and that at the same age, Bernie was generally the better hitter than Damon, the simple fact that they are not the same age makes this something of a moot point. Your assertion that "Bernie outdoes Damon at the plate" is inaccurate. The fact is that Bernie outDID Damon at the plate, but right now Bernie is the worst regular outfielder in the majors, when you consider that Reed is likely to improve, and Damon is one of the best. They're different kinds of players, Bernie with more power, Damon with more speed, but clearly the odds are with Damon as to who will be the better player over the next four seasons. Or even the next one.

  • At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Figures lie and liars figure

    Bernie in his prime was a 3 -4 -5 hitter not a lead off guy and you expect OPS to be higher than Damon

    Damon is a leadoff guy with 2 or 3 years left. He will set table for
    Jeter - Shef and Giambi

    The guy whose stats you should analyze is that choke artist A-Fraud

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