• Was Johnny Damon Better In Boston Or New York?

    Posted by on November 7th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    With some help via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, let’s look at Johnny Damon’s career as a member of the Boston Red Sox and his New York Yankees career, to date:

    First, his time in Boston:

    2002	Red Sox	  107	24   .615  6.24	 .526   702
    2003	Red Sox    93	 2   .512  5.40	 .490   690
    2004	Red Sox	  116	25   .607  6.94	 .537   702
    2005	Red Sox	  107	26   .624  6.54	 .496   688
    TOTALS	          423	77   .591  6.27	 .512  2782


    World Series Rings: 1
    Signature Post-Season Moment:
    2nd inning Grand Slam on 10/20/04 in Game 7 of 2004 ALCS

    Next, here’s Damon’s time in New York (so far):

    2006	Yankees	  108	26   .624  6.55	 .550	671
    2007	Yankees	   82	 5   .527  5.54	 .495	605
    2008	Yankees	  101	25   .629  6.75	 .541	623
    2009	Yankees	  102	27   .636  6.77	 .553	626
    TOTALS		  393	83   .607  6.41	 .535  2525


    World Series Rings: 1
    Signature Post-Season Moment:
    9th inning “Double Steal” on 11/1/09 in Game 4 of 2009 World Series

    The numbers are pretty close here. In slightly less PA as a member of the Yankees, Damon has posted slightly better numbers in terms of RCAA, OWP, RC/G, and BPA (compared to when he was a member of the Red Sox). And, Johnny has one ring with each team – where he had a big post-season moment contributing towards it.

    On the whole, I would say that Johnny Damon’s “time” in New York was just as good as it was while he was in Boston. His production was the same, and, in each stop, he was on one World Series championship team (during the four years he was there).

    So, when you retrospectively think “Johnny Damon,” and assuming you don’t consider him to be a “Kansas City Royal” or “Oakland Athletic” (although I doubt anyone who consider the latter), should you first see him as a “Red Sox” or as a “Yankee”? Perhaps it depends on which side of the Boston/New York fence that you sit on? But, in any event, you cannot say that Damon’s career in Boston was better than it was (through 2009) in New York.

    Johnny Damon’s “mark” in both towns was pretty much exactly the same.


    Not sure what the baseball stats used in this feature are?

    Here’s more on what each one is:

    Runs Created [RC]

    A Bill James statistic. An estimate of the number of runs that a player would produce based on his offensive statistics. Runs created is an attempt to measure total offensive contribution in terms of runs (see also Runs Contributed). Divided by the runs required per win (in professional baseball, approximately 10), runs created becomes the total wins created by this player’s offensive performance.

    RC = ((H+BB+HBP-CS-GIDP) * (TB+ 0.26*(BB+HBP-IBB) + 0.52*(SB+SH+SF)))/(AB+BB+HBP+SH+SF)

    Note: The formula shown here is the modern formula in current use by sabermetricians. Bill James created many variations of the basic formula to adjust for available data and other factors in bygone eras.

    RC typically ranges from 0 to 120 in a 162-game season. Only players who play a lot can have a very high season total, since the number is dependent on total stats. For a team, runs created is a projected estimate of the runs the team should have scored given its number of hits (by type), walks, stolen bases, and times caught stealing. Comparing team runs created to actual runs scored gives an indication of other factors at work, factors that effect the efficiency of a team’s offense. For instance, high efficiency — consistently scoring more runs than projected — could be explained by good clutch hitting, good baserunning, good managing, or good luck (or maybe cheating). The more consistent the two figures, the less luck is probably involved.

    Runs Created Above Average [RCAA]

    This is a Lee Sinins creation. It’s the difference between a player’s runs created total and the total for an average player who used the same amount of his team’s outs. A negative RCAA indicates a below average player in this category.

    Runs Created Per Game [RC/G]

    Runs created is an accumulation stat; the more a player bats, the more runs he creates (assuming he makes some positive contribution). Converting runs created into runs created per game provides an indication of how valuable this player is to have in the lineup. RC/G is somewhat like ERA is for pitchers; it recasts the offensive contribution of the player in the context of a nine inning (in this case, 27 out) game. To calculate RC/G, multiply RC by 27 and divide by the number of outs the player is responsible for (OM), thus:

    RC/G = 27*RC/OM

    [Note: The formula shown here is the modern formula in current use by sabermetricians. Since data is available to account for all outs made, it is appropriate to use 27 outs as the context. In earlier periods, data on some kinds of outs (GIDP and CS are examples) are incomplete or unavailable. Consequently, applying the formula to other eras requires use of 25.5 or 26 outs per game.]

    One way to look at RC/G is to imagine a lineup with the same player batting in every spot. A team made up of nine 1992 model Barry Bonds, for example, would be expected to score 11.34 runs per game on average. (Bonds had 147 runs created in 1992.)

    Bases Per Plate Appearance [BPA]

    The formula is (TB+BB+HBP+SB-CS-GIDP)/(AB+BB+HBP+SF).

    Offensive Winning Percentage [OWP]

    A player’s Offensive Winning Percentage equals the percentage of games a team would win with nine of that player in its lineup, given average pitching and defense. The formula is the square of Runs Created per 27 Outs, divided by the sum of the square of Runs Created per 27 Outs and the square of the league average of runs per game.

    Comments on Was Johnny Damon Better In Boston Or New York?

    1. Tresh Fan
      November 7th, 2009 | 9:55 am

      The numbers are eerily similar. Note how in both cases Damon slumped in his second season, and how he put together his arguably best offensive year in the championship season. But I would rate Damon higher as a Bosox because his defensive skills were not yet in the decline we saw his last two years or so in New York.

    2. huuz
      November 7th, 2009 | 11:00 am

      this analysis fails to account that JD was a CF for his tenure in boston while mostly a LF for the Yanks. Given that his offensive numbers are so similar, he was a much more valuable player for the sox than the Yanks…

      but i still credit Cash with a good move on JD.

    3. November 7th, 2009 | 11:08 am

      Check out Damon’s UZR/150 rates in CF:


      He was better in CF in Boston than in NY – but, he was far from being a plus defender in CF while in Boston. Perhaps, if not for Manny, and a replacement for CF, Damon (because of his arm) should have moved to LF while he was in Boston.

    4. Corey
      November 7th, 2009 | 11:42 am

      Caveman Damon is a dirty Red Sock, and will be forever. I really hope they do not re-sign that neanderthal.

    5. YankCrank
      November 7th, 2009 | 11:47 am

      Awesome work Steve, I really like the comparison. I remember when we signed Damon, all my friends who are Sox fans said, “You’ll get one good year out of him, maybe two, but the last two years of that contract will be a disaster.” They were clearly wrong.

      He put up very similar numbers but I feel he’ll be remembered more for the Red Sox, and how he had a very important role in turning the fortunes of that long-suffering franchise completely around. I loved him as a Yankee though, and wanted the Yanks to sign him in 2002, not Giambi.

      A word of caution for next year though. Look how Damon’s UZR/150 has dropped an average of over 20 points/year in left field from ’07 to ’09:

      2007: 37.4
      2008: 11.6 (25.8 drop)
      2009: -12.1 (23.7 drop)

      I know he hits and is a good clubhouse guy, but if this continues can we handle having a 36-year-old left fielder who plays to a -35 UZR/150?

    6. YankCrank
      November 7th, 2009 | 11:51 am

      Corey wrote:

      Caveman Damon is a dirty Red Sock, and will be forever. I really hope they do not re-sign that neanderthal.

      I know you dislike Johnny, but you can’t appreciate him after his huge year and highly-productive World Series? The man was a beast this year, until the final month, and had the biggest at bat and biggest play of the series in what we now know was the swing game.

      2004 is long in the past, this man was a damn productive Yankee.

    7. Corey
      November 7th, 2009 | 12:02 pm

      @ YankCrank:
      There’s no doubt that he had a great year, and there’s no doubt that the 2 bag SB was an all-time World Series play….I just get a nauseating feeling everytime I see him.

      Things like him almost throwing the ball into LF stands with 2 outs, letting a run score. Things like him saying he can’t go anymore during game 6 of the world series because he couldn’t run comfortably, then an inning or 2 later hes literally running on the field when the final out was recorded, grimace free. Things like him playing through injury when it clearly is affecting his performance negatively. Add all this to the fact that his outfield defense is starting to become as bad as Abreu was (albeit without the fear of the wall), I say “See YA!” to him right now. Re-sign Matsui, let him be in the DH/PH rotation, and let him become the new Ruben Sierra.

    8. November 7th, 2009 | 12:22 pm

      Re: the Yanks signing Damon back then, one of my all-time personal fav WW entries:


    9. Corey
      November 7th, 2009 | 12:43 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Re: the Yanks signing Damon back then, one of my all-time personal fav WW entries:

      Pretty funny, let’s say, hypothetically, Damon signs with the Sox this offseason. I bet that you would see pretty much verbatim of many of those posts from Yankees blogs, replacing the term Yankees with Red Sox in the posts.

    10. Evan3457
      November 7th, 2009 | 3:29 pm

      It was a good move to sign Damon. I thought Beltran would’ve been better, but the Boss decided that money would go to Randy Johnson.

      Now, comes the hard part: on the heels of his solid play helping them to a title, do they sign him for what he’ll want, or do they let him go to the highest bidder. It won’t likely be the Sox, but it could be the…Mets…possibly.

    11. JeremyM
      November 7th, 2009 | 9:53 pm

      Steve, you know Cashman wanted to sign Damon before he went to Boston, right? And someone above him decided Rondell White (!) was a better choice. I’m just saying 🙂 But it does illustrate the point that yes, Cashman did spend a lot of money this offseason, but he spent it on the right guys, if we can judge the deals by the first year.

      Nice flashback to the old Damon post by the way. Classic.

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