Who would have thought that Jackie Bradley Jr. would have a hitting streak over twenty games this season, especially after crafting a mediocre batting average last season? It comes as a pleasant surprise to many to see Bradley Jr. hitting well. Personally, I’m very happy to see Bradley Jr.’s bat on fire, but I can’t help but wonder if his hitting will stay consistent as the season progresses. So has Jackie Bradley Jr finally found stride in his career, or is this another fluke?
Bradley Jr.’s hitting streak has gotten some talking about how far he can stretch it. Twenty games is nothing to ignore, but it’s not enough to begin considering him a future Red Sox legend. Let’s look at some numbers to get a better sense of this idea. Joe DiMaggio holds the record for the longest hitting streak with 56 games in 1941, breaking Willie Keeler’s record of 44. Pete Rose tied Keeler in 1978, but since then, few players at all have come even close to shattering DiMaggio’s record, which will probably never be broken. The Red Sox team record wouldn’t be easy to break either. If Bradley Jr. were to hit safely in 27 games, he’d only be tied for seventh with Dom DiMaggio (Joe’s brother), who initially set the record with 34 games in 1949. Bradley Jr. would then have to surpass Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Wade Boggs, Nomar Garciaparra, and David Ortiz, who’s already stealing all the thunder in his final season in baseball. So is Bradley Jr.’s streak impressive? Yes, but not so much when compared to other Red Sox players.
I’m not trying to undermine the way Bradley Jr. is playing this season. It’s easy to assume that Bradley Jr. finally found stride in a career that’s had its ups and downs. He’s exceeded so many people’s expectations, including mine. So has Bradley Jr finally found stride? Perhaps, but I want to see what he does the rest of the season before I give a hard yes. Let’s make sure this isn’t another fluke where he hits well for a few weeks before dropping off again like he did last year. More importantly, let’s see how Bradley Jr. does before we get too invested in him.
In his heyday, Johnny Damon was one of the best players in all of Major League Baseball. The 40-year-old outfielder, who has not played in a Major League game since 2012, is eyeing a comeback. He even said he thinks he could be an above-average player. So far Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, has not presented him with any offers. In Boston, Johnny Damon is a name synonymous with Benedict Arnold, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, and Jacoby Ellsubry. He is best known for signing with the New York Yankees in order to make even more money despite already having enough money for the rest of his life. Without a Boston bias, the possibility of a Johnny Damon comeback at this point in his career seems slim-to-none.
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Sure, this is the same man who smacked 2769 career base hits in the big leagues, swiped over 400 bags, and clubbed over 200 home runs. It is fair to even put Johnny Damon in consideration for the Hall of Fame regardless of whether or not he will get in. This is a guy who will be on Hall of Fame ballots and be considered for the honor, but he is not a guy who should ever step on a Major League Baseball field ever again to play in a game.
In 2012, Damon played 64 games for the Cleveland Indians. That was two years ago and he was designated for assignment after a lousy showing. His numbers were comparable to Grady Sizemore’s this year, as Damon hit just .222 with a .281 OBP in his tenure with the Tribe. Now these numbers do not exactly scream, “Sign me! Sign me!”, especially since they were two years ago. Since then, Damon has not played the game which makes it fair to assume he has gotten worse. No team in their right mind wants an overpaid, washed up bum who only wants to keep playing so that he can amass 3000 career hits and secure his place in the Hall of Fame. Talk about one selfish guy!
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There is a better chance of it raining $1 million bills from the sky in the desert than there is of Johnny Damon being added to a 25-man roster in the big leagues ever again. While respecting the impressive career Damon had, it is time for him to walk away from the game as a player. If he is so concerned about being in the Hall of Fame, then perhaps he should take up managing and see how he fares there.
Just not in Boston.