Johnny Damon was on MLB Network yesterday and was asked about the Hall of Fame. It’s kind of a lose-lose topic for a guy like Damon who, if he ducks or deflects questions about it, he’s not being particularly nice to his host, but if he answers it, he gets people saying stuff like “what, you think you’re going into the Hall of Fame, you delusional so-and-so?”
But answer the questions he did, particularly one about which cap he’d wear if he was, indeed, elected one day (transcript of his answer via Royals Review):
Well, it’s a tough decision… four years in Boston… four years in New York… five and a half years in Kansas City. And if you go by the numbers, that’s where my best years were. So if they’d have me…
Damon’s case for the Hall of Fame on the merits is interesting enough. I don’t think he’s worthy and if he were to retire today I don’t think he makes it. But if he gets to 3,000 hits, it will be time for a very interesting discussion. Let’s save that discussion for another time.
Merits aside, the cap topic is pretty darn interesting too. He was probably — purely on the numbers — a better player in Kansas City than anywhere else, but that’s not what the Hall of Fame looks at. If it was, then Reggie Jackson would be wearing an Athletics’ cap. It’s more about history and public fascination and all of that, and I bet that if you put 100 casual fans in a room, a tremendously large number of them wouldn’t be able to identify the team on which Damon broke into the bigs.
Jon Morosi reports that the Mariners and the Marlins are “fairly close” on a trade that would send reliever David Phelps to Seattle. Earlier Ken Rosenthal and others reported that the sides were talking, but that a deal was not imminent.
Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. Basically everything you want in a reliever, right?
The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation.
Corey Sager homered in the Dodgers’ win over the White Sox last night. It was his 45th career homer, 44 of which have come while playing shortstop. While that’s great given that the guy has only played in 270 games, it’s not a lot of homers in an absolute sense. Thousands of players have more homers than that, obviously. Baseball has been around for a long time!
But it’s enough to set a record. A Los Angeles Dodgers record, specifically, for the most homers from a shortstop. It puts Seager past Rafael Furcal, who hit 43 while wearing Dodger blue. The record for the franchise, including Brooklyn, is Pee Wee Reese, who hit 122.
It seems astounding that no other Dodgers shortstop has hit more than 44 homers in the nearly 60 years since the club has been in Los Angeles, but it’s true. If you had asked me before I saw the factoid mentioned on Twitter I would’ve bet my life that Bill Russell would’ve had more. Not because he had any power — he was, in fact, one of the more punchless players of his era — but because he simply played in L.A. so long, logging 1,746 games at short for Walt Alston and Tommy Lasorda. Nope. He only hit 46 in his 18-year career, with a handful of those coming as an outfielder. His season high is seven. Seager has hit seven homers in May of his rookie season.
Oh well, you learn something new every day.