Back on July 29th, JC Mitchell wrote an article titled Damon's Quest for 3000 Has Hurt. Mitchell examined Damon's plate discipline in 2011 and compared it to his career and surmised that Damon was altering his approach at tthe plate in his quest to reach 3000 hits.
In his article Mitchell wrote:
Damon enters today with 2677 hits and could reasonably reach 3000 hits with 2-3 more mediocre seasons. Damon's approach at the plate makes one believe he could reach 3000 hits by this time next year. Lately, the man swings at anything short of a pitch out. He has 5 walks since June 21st, a span of 110 plate appearances, or the equivalent of how often Corey Patterson walks. His O-Swing% (percentage of swings out of the strike zone) is a career high at 31.8%. His career O-Swing% coming into this season was below 21%.
Today Joel Sherman of the New York Posts writes an article titled Damon's Quest for 3,000 hits keeping Yankees at bay. Here are some of the quotes:
Damon has done nothing in recent years to hide his obsession with reaching 3,000 hits, in part because he believes it will elevate his Hall of Fame chances. He is 277 hits shy of the milestone.
More from Sherman After the Jump
However, executives from three teams that had interest in Damon expressed concerns a fixation with 3,000 has diminished an attribute that greatly contributed to the perception of Damon as a winning player: patient, tough at-bats
And Sherman even presents some statistical evidence to back up the claim:
Damon, historically a disciplined hitter, swung at 31.3 percent of pitches out of the strike zone. That was, by far, his worst mark for the 10 years Fangraphs has tracked the stat and marked the third straight year he incurred a significant increase. There is a belief he is trying to raise his hit totals to draw closer to 3,000 and it is coming at the expense of those tough, patient at-bats.
Via Text message Damon responded:
"I think the OBP (on-base percentage) went down because in 2011 I felt like there were tough calls on me so I was a little more aggressive. I liked the results with production better because of it."
So, the question becomes: Do you believe Johnny Damon has altered his approach at the plate in order to enhance his chances at reaching the 3000 hit plateau? And, do you believe that this is truly a concern for other teams when evaluating Johnny Damon for 2012?