Johnny Damon: Quietly Making Noise
I'll start this one off by stating two obvious facts.
The first, Johnny Damon's best baseball years are behind him.
The second, it is impossible to make noise quietly, unless, of course, it is 2009 and you happen to be named Johnny Damon.
Damon's best statistical year was 2004, with the Red Sox, where he hit 20 home runs, a career high 94 RBI, and had a batting average of .304.
It is sometimes comical to watch Damon in the field now, misjudging fly balls and making bad throws to bases, as he has obviously lost a step or two in the aging process.
That being said, Damon has slipped into a position this year that is absolutely invaluable to the Yankees.
2009 has seen a re-emergence of Damon, on a team with more big name All-Stars on it since Johnny arrived in the Bronx.
A Yankee lineup featuring bigger names like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira leaves Damon at a point in his career where he has become a role player, more than a star.
Players like A-Rod, Teixeira, Jorge Posada, and even Nick Swisher, are expected to be the RBI guys and major hit makers on this Yankee team.
Fans are not looking at Damon to do big things in games, and aren't expecting fireworks from him this year.
Johnny Damon is expected to be the aging player, who does not have much left in the tank.
Fortunately for Damon, the lack of scrutiny has led him to have an excellent first half, and fly under the radar, putting up some of his best hitting in recent years.
When Damon joined the Bombers in 2006, he finished the year with solid numbers: 80 RBI, a .285 batting average, and a career high 24 home runs.
Since that year, Damon has gotten worse, statistic wise, hitting just 12 and 17 home runs, and driving in 63 and 71 runs, in the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Compare the past two seasons' stats to Damon's numbers this year, and remember that we are only at the halfway point.
In 2009, Damon is batting .279, and has hit 12 home runs.
His most impressive statistics of this season come in the RBI and OBP categories, where Damon has driven in 50 runs already this season, and has an OBP of .362, currently fifth best in his 14-year career.
With Damon's stats sitting where they are this season, he is on pace to have his best season as a Yankee, as well his best year in since that magical season in 2004.
So, on a Yankee team and in a league where Johnny Damon does not get much recognition anymore, he is doing his best to stay relevant.
And while fans, haters, and baseball analysts continue to ignore Damon's successes this year, he will continue to make noise, quietly.
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