With a two-bagger on Saturday, Johnny Damon has pelted major league outfields with his 500th double. As The Associated Press was quick to report, "Damon became just the 11th player all-time to have 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 homers, and 2,500 hits. All of the other players accomplishing the feat -- George Brett, Lou Gehrig, Goose Goslin, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Paul Molitor, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons and Robin Yount -- are in baseball's Hall of Fame."
All of which is swell, not to mention entirely true, but do the associations mean he is Hall-worthy ? While some may be easily impressed by such milestones, I do not think it is the sort of thing that, by itself, makes Damon a Hall of Fame player. It is not unlike whether you thought Dave Kingman would have been a Hall of Fame player if he had reached 500 home runs in the 1980s. If Kingman had hit that milestone, it would have been a nice feat for him. But I suspect it would have merely earned him the opportunity to be baseball's first 500-home run hitter who did not get his ticket to Cooperstown punched by the electorate. Similarly, I do not think Fred McGriff's case for the Hall suffers because he did not reach 500 homers.
Let's compare Damon's career offensive WAR, wins above replacement, with the other 10 hitters. Damon's 49.9 is the lowest of the lot and tied for 147th all time with Todd Helton. He is just behind Vada Pinson -- long the "guy with the most of something not in Cooperstown" -- as well as Ron Cey, Ralph Kiner and Brian Giles. Among active players, he is behind guys like Scott Rolen, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge will get voted in. But Damon belongs with this company, on a list of the very good, with Kiner being the only one who has been bronzed.
The next lowest ranked players from the list of 11 are Simmons (57.4, 101st overall, and probably about to be passed by Bobby Abreu) and Goslin (58.5 career offensive WAR). Damon will need about four years at last season's productivity at the plate to catch either of them. It means that he will have to produce a nice, solid run through his age-40 season, while also catching breaks from employers willing to settle for a fairly weak designated hitter. All of which isn't inconceivable, but as far as associating Damon with Hall of Famers, this might be as far as he gets.