Clone Wars: Johnny Damon and Curtis Granderson

MLB: Tampa Devil Rays vs. theTigers May 30, 2007

Curtis Granderson is eight years younger than Johnny Damon, but based on where they are in their careers they have many similarities. This is strictly a fantasy/offensive assessment, though, as Granderson is a much better defender for the Yankees.

Before last season Damon had never had a strike out rate over 15 percent, but in 2009 he struck out nearly 18 percent of the time. That is not surprising as he is getting older and contact is one of the skills to decline at this age. At the same time, Granderson has taken a step forward the past two years with a K percentage of 20 and 22 percents the last two years. That is still a significant difference, but much closer than it would have been in Damon’s prime.

As for plate discipline, Granderson has again made huge strides getting his walk rate over 10 percent these past two seasons. That is better than the career rate of Damon at 9.2 percent, but very similar to the rates he has posted for the past four seasons.

Granderson had a very tough year on his BABIP at .276, but with a career rate of .323 that should help his OBP return to much better numbers. He had some learning to do, much like Damon, as his OBP was below .340 for his first three years before his skills grew. He had two seasons with an OBP over .360 and would have done the same in 2009 if his BABIP had been neutral.

Of course the big question is the power. Damon had a great year for home run power, but his ISO also had a huge bump. It was at .207, which was a career high with only 2006 coming close at .197. He just doesn’t have this type of power away from Yankee Stadium and could suffer wherever he winds up.

Granderson had a good year for homers with 30, but his overall power was down with a ISO of .204. His career rate is similar at .211, but being moved to Yankee Stadium can only help. Perhaps this is where the two will differ. Granderson should see a bump in his power, homers and OBP.

On the base paths Granderson does not appear to have the numbers of Damon’s prime, but once again he is very similar to where Damon is now. Granderson had a speed score of 6.1 in 2009 and Damon was at 5.8, which was his lowest rate of his career.

Damon is a better bet for run totals as he is a leadoff hitter unless his new team in 2010 doesn’t ask him to fill that roll. This means his RBI chances are quite low, but his run totals are impressive. Granderson is a candidate for the top of the order, but his power should keep him in a lower spot and in New York his run and RBI totals should be great.

Granderson is the better option this year and going forward, but mainly due to the decline in Damon’s skills. He would be behind Damon in runs, steals and batting average in their prime, but now it’s much closer. With Granderson’s ability to hit 30 homers outside of Yankee Stadium he gains that much more.

The Yankees not only get similar numbers in Granderson, but his much better defense and younger legs. Your fantasy team will get somewhat similar results as well with no worry about Damon’s noodle arm. Granderson is currently the No. 51 pick according to MockDraftCentral, but Damon is going at 121. While Granderson has the better situation right now, I wouldn’t take Granderson that far ahead of his clone.

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Steve Stein
14 years ago

Not only that, but I think the Red Sox thought they had a Johnny Damon clone in Jacoby Ellsbury.  They may be right, but it’s too early to tell I think.