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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Johnny Damon analysis

If you're tired of seeing Shelley Duncan bat .230 with a strikeout every 2.8 at-bats, the arrival of Johnny Damon to the Indians on Tuesday is welcome news.

If you're hoping for a significant boost to your fantasy baseball outfield, you likely will be disappointed.

Yes, Damon was productive with the Rays last season, batting .261 with 79 runs, 16 homers, 73 RBI and 19 steals.

However, he won't help you much in the power department -- he had a combined 24 homers in 1,121 at-bats in 2010 and '11, and his stolen-base total likely will be down significantly from a few seasons ago.

Damon hit 24 homers in 2009, a number that is deceiving because 17 were at Yankee Stadium, where he could take advantage of the short porch in right field. In the two seasons since, he averaged 12 homers, 62 RBI, 15 steals and 80 runs, and he batted .266 -- 20 points below his career norm.

In the last three seasons, Damon has averaged 17 steals -- down 10 from his three-year norm from 2006-08.

Even worse, in 75 at-bats at Progressive Field from 2007 to '11, he had zero homers and five RBI. In that span, he scored 12 runs, stole three bases and hit .293.

It's to be expected that Damon's numbers will be down across the board at age 38. But if he's not going to be a decent help in steals and batting average, he's not worth playing in almost any format.

Then there's the likelihood he will be in a left-field platoon with Duncan, with Damon getting the majority of the at-bats against right-handers, and we're left with little hope for fantasy success.

If you're desperate in an AL-only league, Damon could be a decent choice if he keeps his average in the .280 range and steals at least 15 bases.

In mixed leagues, you should keep him on your bench.

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