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#17 Eric Byrnes (51.86) vs. #34 Johnny Damon (123.24)
Fifty. That's the number that is driving the value of Eric Byrnes this year (it was his stolen base total, by the way). Of course, those who talk up that number fail to realize that he had never stolen more than 25 bases in a season previously. He was also caught only seven times last year despite all that running, so one would have to think that a little correction there could obviously lower his overall number. People also seem to be forgetting that this is a guy who hit .226-10-40-49-7 as recently as 2005, so it's not like there is some huge track record of success. Here are a couple of other factors to conside: First, Byrnes has never hit more than 26 home runs or knocked in more than 83 runs in a season. He also has only one 100-run season in his career and has never hit higher than .286 in a season (career .267). He also has a long history of totally falling apart after the All-Star break, as his average drops 51 points (to .239), while his OPS falls 156 points (down to .695).
On the other side we have Johnny Damon, who was awful last year, right? Well, as bad as he was, he scored only 10 fewer runs than Byrnes (103 to 93), knocked in 63 runs and stole 27 bases. Big deal you say, right? Remember, before last season Byrnes had never stolen that many bases or scored that many runs in a season, and this was Damon's worst year since 2001. Damon will still hit at the top of a loaded Yankees lineup which almost guarantees him 100 runs scored, a total that he reached nine straight seasons before last year's 93. Damon has also stolen at least 18 bases every year since 1998, and he has put up double-digit homers in nine of the last 10 seasons. Damon also owns a .288 career average, and recall that Byrnes' season best mark is .286.
Byrnes will likely steal more bases and hit more home runs that Damon in 2008, but it's not as if you are getting dead weight with Damon. Plus, Damon can be had 70 picks later, and will likely produce comparable all-around numbers
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