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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Former All-Star Cameron retires after 17 years

Two months after agreeing to terms on a Minor League deal with the Nationals, outfielder Mike Cameron announced his retirement Sunday.
[...]
Cameron played for eight teams during his 17-year career, including the White Sox, Mets, Padres and Brewers. He had a career .249 batting average with 278 home runs and 968 RBIs, and was one of 15 players in big league history to hit four home runs in one game.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 02:14 PM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, nationals

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: February 19, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4064341)
Starting CF for the Rob Deer All-Stars?
   2. puck Posted: February 19, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4064342)
Wouldn't Gorman Thomas fit that team better?
   3. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4064343)
One of my favorite players even before he was a Met.

Was the best player in the package the Reds sent to Seattle for Ken Griffey Jr., and put up 35.8 WAR over the remainder of his career, more than three times what Griffey did afterwards.

His head-first collision with Beltran in the outfield was one of the scariest things I've ever seen in sports. Was glad to see him get back to his old self afterwards.

He was one of the first MLB players suspended under the new drug testing policies in 2007, for using a banned stimulant.
   4. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4064347)
I didn't return to being interested in baseball until 2003 so I missed nearly all of Cameron's career in the AL, leaving me with limited impressions of him as a player. So for me the most prominent Mike Cameron memory is MGL insisting that Cameron was one of the 10 best players in baseball.

Highly questionable analysis aside, Cameron was a much better player than most fans probably thought. His skill set (low BA, plenty of walks, good but not great power, and excellent but relatively non-flashy defense) is exactly the type that flies under the radar and a truly excellent player rarely got the credit he deserved.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:03 PM (#4064348)
Which led me to think about other Rob Deer All-Stars which led me to think about Jose Valentin at SS which led me to poke into his numbers because he didn't K as much as I'd thought (just over 20% of PAs) ...

Valentin's career line was 243/321/448, certainly Deer-ian. He achieved this in part by having an amazingly low 272 BABIP -- I'm guessing one of the lowest all-time for guys with a lot of ABs. He achieved that in part by having a .5 G/F ratio which I'm guessing is one of the lowest of all-time -- that's 2 FBs for every GB. No wonder the BABIP was so low.

I just thought that was kinda fascinating.

OK, heaps of guys with lower BABIPs. Graig Nettles at 245! Da Evans, Killer, Kingman, McGwire all 255 or lower. I figured I'd see guys like Dent and Belanger near the bottom and some TTO types but wasn't expecting that many good hitters that low on BABIP.

By the way, among the 94 players with at least 1000 games at SS, Valentin is one of only 4 with a career ISO of 200+ -- AROD 265, Banks 226, Nomar 208, Valentin 205. There is a big gap to Vern Stephens at #5 (174). Even if you make some cherry-picking (but still reasonable) playing time adjustments, you don't seem to be able to get Tejada or Ripken over 200 in 6000-6500 PA.
   6. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4064351)
"Do you think the Yankees care about WAR???"

- Mike Silva, trashing the suggestion that the Mets should sign Cameron instead of Bay in the 2009-2010 offseason because Cameron projected to about the same WAR, for much less money. Good thing Omar decided not to cheap out on us.
   7. base ball chick Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:07 PM (#4064352)
as a NL fan i saw PLENTY of mike cameron. he was a GOOD centerfielder even as an Old Guy. he had awesomely excellent instincts and a sure first step. one of the best i've seen. everyone was all drooling over andruw jones, even long after he was fat n lazy - but for excellence, they shuld have watched cameron. he didn't get near the props he deserved for his glove

and seems to me he always killed my stros

of course, recently, all the other teams has been killin my stros so maybe it's kind of got all pushed together in my mind...
   8. Something Other Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM (#4064355)
I remember being pleased that the Red Sox had recognized Cameron's value and signed him to a short, reasonable deal that was unlikely to go wrong.

Oops.

Still and all, Cameron's 2009 didn't show any sign of decay, and I don't doubt the Red Sox would have been just fine with Cameron having a normal decline--even by a full win--in 2010, then moving into a backup role in 2011. There was a lot of room for Cameron to decline and still be worth that 2/15.5 deal. T'was not to be.

A good signing nonetheless.
   9. Bruce Markusen Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM (#4064356)
And another former Utica Blue Sox player heads for the pasture.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4064358)
Thomas is of course a good candidate and it probably comes down to definition but (GT then MC) ...

K% 24.4 24.1
BB% 12.7 11.0
HR% 4.9 3.5
BABIP 251 301
GO/AO .72 .72 (don't have GB/FB on Thomas)

So Thomas comes out ahead, but not by much, on TTO. Cameron's BABIP is perhaps way too high. But Cameron has one major advantage -- he was a much better player than Thomas (20 WAR vs 47 WAR). So if Cameron meets the criteria, then he should start. Of course we haven't set the criteria yet.

So ... obviously this has to be more than the TTO all-stars. Guys like Mantle and Reggie might qualify for the TTO all-star team and that's just no fun ... plus you can't have the Rob Deer all-stars if Rob Deer is a bench-warmer. So we're looking for low-BA, high-K, high-BB, high-ISO. The key question I think is how low does the BA have to be to qualify ... possibly also how high does the ISO have to be.

Cameron hit 249 with a 195 ISO. 250 might be too high a BA to tolerate for the Rob Deer all-stars so clearly if we set the max at 240 or 230 then Cameron's out. Also maybe we should require a 200 ISO in which case Cameron is out. Alas Valentin managed a 243 BA and there is no other viable candidate (your next best choices are either Alex Gonzalez but they both hit over 240 and didn't walk that much or Jay Bell who hit a whopping 265 and they're all 50+ ISO points behind Valentin). So if you set a strict 240 BA criterion, you're stuck with somebody like Eddie Joost which is just wrong on so many levels. But we could stick with a 200 min ISO and 250 max BA and get Valentin while dropping Cameron. Or I suppose you could define Deer as the "ideal type" and score (somehow) folks in terms of how close they came to that ideal type which would probably net you Thomas over Cameron while still picking Valentin.

I would never deem to define another man's criteria for the Rob Deer All-Stars so shall leave that for each of you to contemplate in your quiet moments.
   11. AROM Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4064365)
"OK, heaps of guys with lower BABIPs. Graig Nettles at 245! Da Evans, Killer, Kingman, McGwire all 255 or lower. I figured I'd see guys like Dent and Belanger near the bottom and some TTO types but wasn't expecting that many good hitters that low on BABIP."

Keep in mind league babip was a lot lower before around 1993. I think the average in the 70's was about 15-20 lower than in recent seasons.
   12. asinwreck Posted: February 19, 2012 at 04:41 PM (#4064367)
An excellent position player developed by the Chicago White Sox farm system.

Take a moment to appreciate Cameron, as the likes of him come along about as often as Halley's Comet.
   13. Bull Pain Posted: February 19, 2012 at 05:17 PM (#4064386)
That 4-home run game was something else. Boone and Cameron hit back to back homers twice in the first inning! Cameron had 4 by the 5th inning and had two more chances for a 5th against soft tossing lefties.

Konerko for Cameron was a heck of a trade by both teams.
   14. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 19, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4064391)
Keep in mind league babip was a lot lower before around 1993. I think the average in the 70's was about 15-20 lower than in recent seasons.


Is that because of our very small foul territory in most stadiums nowadays?
   15. Moe Greene Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4064427)
I went to 17 Reds games in 1999, and since I always sat in the outfield, I got to see a lot of Mike Cameron that summer.

Visually he was pretty clearly an elite defender at that time. But because he struck out a lot, Reds fans were pretty lukewarm toward him (foreshadowing what would happen to Adam Dunn a few years later). I always liked him.

I recall one game where a couple of drunk morons were heckling Cameron relentlessly throughout the game. Finally, between pitches one inning, Cameron bent over like he was stretching or picking up some grass... then stuck his hand through his legs/behind his butt and extended his middle finger to the centerfield stands. Subtle, but certainly noticed by many of the fans there, who responded with a "Whoaaa!" The hecklers stopped -- apparently being acknowledged by Cameron was good enough for them.

So thanks for that memory, Mike.
   16. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: February 19, 2012 at 06:56 PM (#4064437)
he had awesomely excellent instincts and a sure first step.


True.

one of the best i've seen.


Absolutely.

everyone was all drooling over andruw jones,


Yes.

even long after he was fat n lazy


Yes.

but for excellence, they shuld have watched cameron.


In their primes, Cameron was excellent, and he still couldn't carry Andruw's jock.

he didn't get near the props he deserved for his glove


Didn't he? He was always known for his defense, both in the league and in the stats community. He might have been undervalued offensively, but as a defender he was never under sold that I can recall.
   17. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:35 PM (#4064443)
Didn't he? He was always known for his defense


He only won 3 Gold Gloves (2001, 2003, 2006), and in the OF until very recently, it was pretty common to give GGs to 3 centerfielders per league.
   18. Lassus Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:46 PM (#4064447)
CAMERON HAS BEEN PLAYING FOR SEVENTEEN YEARS?




I need a drink.


And another former Utica Blue Sox player heads for the pasture.

Indeed. Do you know who - if anyone - is left, Bruce? That would have to be nobody, right?
   19. Walt Davis Posted: February 19, 2012 at 07:46 PM (#4064448)
Since I don't feel like a neck-stabbing, I think I've got to agree with Sam. Andruw in his prime was as good as I've ever seen -- unless bbc meant in the post-fat Andruw stage folks should have looked to Cameron. He won 3 GG which maybe isn't as many as he should have won but it's not far out of line with other excellent CF (Willie Davis 3, Lofton 4, Van Slyke 5). If you wanted to point your finger at some GG-stealers, Steve Finley (5) and Torii Hunter (9!) are probably more worthy targets than Andruw. (Finley was certainly very good but I don't think he was quite at that level that often; Hunter was quite good in his prime but got more than a few just by stealing a HR here or there).

Finley must have one of the more variable Rfield lines out there -- a 16, 6, 11, 6 from 26-29 followed by a -20, -1, -18, -17 followed by a +17. Then he was +10 at 38 and -17 at 40. Hilariously he won his first GG in that -20 year.
   20. Rickey!'s people were colonized by wankers Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4064456)
He only won 3 Gold Gloves (2001, 2003, 2006), and in the OF until very recently, it was pretty common to give GGs to 3 centerfielders per league.


Gold Glove winners for the years Mike Cameron was in the NL:

1999: Larry Walker, Andruw Jones, Steve Finley
2004: Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones, Steve Finley
2005: Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones, Bobby Abreu
2006: Carlos Beltran, Andruw Jones, MIKE CAMERON
2007: Carlos Beltran, Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur (Aaron Rowand (tied??))
2008: Carlos Beltran, Shane Victorino, Nate McLouth
2009: Matt Kemp, Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn

You could make an argument that he deserved both of Steve Finley's awards, and by 2007 Andruw was just coasting on rep alone, so you could give him another shot there. But by then the league had cycled in another group of young, defensive minded OFs who were not wrongly collecting that hardware at Cameron's expense.
   21. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4064457)
That 4-home run game was something else. Boone and Cameron hit back to back homers twice in the first inning! Cameron had 4 by the 5th inning and had two more chances for a 5th against soft tossing lefties.


As I remember (and I'm not gonna ruin things by looking it up) he took a fat 3-0 or 3-1 pitch on one of those last at bats. Got credit from the announcers for "playing the right way" or some nonsense. I, of course, was screaming for him to swing.

I saw him a lot during his heyday with the Mariners, and I remember thinking that while I'd never seen Mays or seen much of Andruw Jones, I couldn't imagine how they could be better in the field. Cameron seemed to catch everything you could imagine anyone could and then some.
   22. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:41 PM (#4064476)
The Utica Blue Sox didn't disappear THAT long ago.

Chris Resop, Jeff Fulchino
Ross Gload

A couple guys you may have heard of
   23. Koot Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:50 PM (#4064479)
I didn't realize the Blue Sox were still around in 2000. I grew up nearby in the 80's and saw a few games a season.
   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 19, 2012 at 08:57 PM (#4064480)
There is one remaining ex-Watertown Indian.
   25. Lassus Posted: February 19, 2012 at 09:03 PM (#4064483)
I didn't realize the Blue Sox were still around in 2000.

Yeah, me either. I remembered THAT Ripkin tore them out of town, but not WHEN, as I was far, far away when it happened.

Oh crap. I knew Adrian Gonzalez was there, too, and simply forgot. Dumb.
   26. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 19, 2012 at 09:18 PM (#4064487)
If you wanted to point your finger at some GG-stealers, Steve Finley (5) and Torii Hunter (9!) are probably more worthy targets than Andruw.


I didn't mean to imply that Andruw was stealing Gold Gloves at Cameron's expense, or even necessarily that Cameron was getting robbed in general. His total just struck me as being on the low side. Basically, I agree with Sam in #20: in the NL, Finley might have stolen a couple, but not really Andruw or Beltran or anybody by 08-09. Although, while, say, Larry Walker was probably farther above the average RF than Cameron was above the average CF, if they were just going to give Gold Gloves to the 3 best outfielders in general, I'd probably say Cameron deserved those more than Walker (or certainly more than, say, Abreu or Francoeur). But I know that's always been a weird and somewhat vague aspect of Gold Glove voting.
   27. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: February 19, 2012 at 09:24 PM (#4064491)
OK, heaps of guys with lower BABIPs. Graig Nettles at 245! Da Evans, Killer, Kingman, McGwire all 255 or lower.

Roger Maris was at .254 for his career, and in one of my favorite random statistics, had a .209 BABIP in his 61-HR season.
   28. The District Attorney Posted: February 19, 2012 at 09:48 PM (#4064495)
Rany points out that Cameron has more WAR than Kirby Puckett.

Cameron did in fact hit the Astros pretty well, putting up his fifth best tOPS against them. (273/350/498 against them, vs 249/338/444 career. He was best against the team that traded him away as a prospect, the White Sox: 303/433/600.)

As for whether he should be a Rob Deer All-Star, well, only seven more players in the history of baseball struck out more, so, probably :-)
   29. AROM Posted: February 19, 2012 at 10:37 PM (#4064502)
Cameron's always been comparable to Devon White, but until his retirement never realized how perfect the comp was, 10 years apart.

White was born on December 29, 1962. Ten years and ten days later, Cameron was born.

White debuted in 1985, got a cup of coffee, and got another cup 1986 for a total 66 PA in his first 2 years. Cameron debuted in 1995, and got 56 PA for his first 2 cups.

White earned a starting job in 1987, hit decently (.263, 24 HR, 103 runs) but his numbers looked better than they really were (99 OPS+) because he didn't walk and 1987 was a crazy year for hitting. Cameron earned a starting role in midseason, hit a little bit better than White (109 OPS+).

White got screwed up as a hitter, maybe by clueless Angel coaching at the time, or something. He bottomed out in 1990, hitting .217/.290/.343. The Angels gave up and traded him. Cameron struggled mightily after a good rookie season, and hit .210/.285/.336 in 1998. The White Sox then traded him. White struggled for 3 years before bottoming out, Cameron bottomed out quickly.

Both recovered with fine seasons immediately after the trades. White hit well overall (116 OPS+), as did Cameron (105). Both provided good power and speed, and great defense.

White was a central player for the greatest seasons in Toronto Blue Jay history. Cameron was central to the greatest seasons of the Mariners. Both the Mariners and the Jays started in 1977.

Both players stayed in great shape, and were able to hit decently (Cameron a bit more), play a good center field, and generally stay in the lineup up to age 36.

At 37, both had serious injuries. White played 47 games, Cameron played 48.

At 38, White had one more good year, with a 107 OPS+ in 126 games. Cameron did not, but might have had his circumstances been better. He didn't get the playing time in Boston because Ellsbury claimed center field on an everyday basis, Carl Crawford signed for big money in left, and Cameron couldn't get it going while playing as a part timer. After going to Florida, Cameron got regular work for 2 months and his OPS+ (105) matched his career total.

Both were primarily center fielders to the end.
   30. CFiJ Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4064513)
Not that it necessarily means anything, but I thought it was interesting that the Mariners were 76–85 in 1998, 79–83 in 1999, and after they got Cameron they were 91–71, 116–46, 93–69, 93–69, until 2004, when they trade him away and end up 63–99. Let me categorically state that I don't think it was all Cameron. But having Cameron in center, Ichiro in right, and some half-way decent defensive guys in left, the Mariners turned a lot of balls hit to the outfield into outs.
   31. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4064514)
Completely forgot he ever played for the Mets. 278 home run is also way more than I would have guessed he had.

He was traded after his second full season in the bigs for Paul Konerko, who had just played his first half-season of big league ball. A rare trade of young pre-arb players that had both end up doing well - Cameron would play over 1700 games more, and Konerko played 1800 more games and is still going.
   32. base ball chick Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:10 PM (#4064515)
sam

young andruw jones was in a class by himself.

but then he decided to eat everything in sight and not workout and by the year he hit all those homers he was not the same guy and by 06 or 07 and cameron was better
   33. Repoz Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:23 PM (#4064521)
Rany points out that Cameron has more WAR than Kirby Puckett.

And Jon Heyman twaddles...

"saw mike cameron career WAR was higher than puckett, 46.7 to 44.8. does this prove cameron under-rated? or WAR over-rated?"
   34. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:27 PM (#4064524)
Hunter was quite good in his prime but got more than a few just by stealing a HR here or there


A nice what-if scenario is how would Hunter's defense would be perceived if the CF wall at the Metrodome was 9 ft. tall instead of 7. He did seem unusually good at robbing home runs or near home runs but without playing in the right park for it he would never have had so many chances.
   35. JJ1986 Posted: February 19, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4064536)
"saw mike cameron career WAR was higher than puckett, 46.7 to 44.8. does this prove cameron under-rated? or WAR over-rated?"


My takeaway would be that Puckett is overrated.
   36. The District Attorney Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:01 AM (#4064540)
Someone on Twitter responded that Cameron had five more seasons in which to amass WAR, but it turns out that since Cameron had some short seasons and Kirby averaged about 650 PA in the seasons he did have, that ends up basically evening out. Cameron made 142 more outs in his career than Puckett did.
   37. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:03 AM (#4064541)

"saw mike cameron career WAR was higher than puckett, 46.7 to 44.8. does this prove cameron under-rated? or WAR over-rated?"


Can't it be both?
   38. Sunday silence Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:10 AM (#4064563)
Keep in mind league babip was a lot lower before around 1993. I think the average in the 70's was about 15-20 lower than in recent seasons.


Also were there any changes in scoring or or record keeping that might affect this? Such as sac flies or caught stealings or something? Seems unlikely but stranger things may have happened.
   39. AROM Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:21 AM (#4064565)
"Can't it be both?"

How about neither? One freakin data point doesn't prove anything. Heyman might understand that if he could ever extract his nose from Scott's Borass.
   40. AROM Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:24 AM (#4064571)
Also were there any changes in scoring or or record keeping that might affect this? Such as sac flies or caught stealings or something? Seems unlikely but stranger things may have happened.


No scoring changes like that happened that recently. Ballparks, baseballs, and stronger players hitting the ball harder are the best bets for an explanation.
   41. The Ghost's Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:29 AM (#4064575)
That 4-home run game was something else. Boone and Cameron hit back to back homers twice in the first inning! Cameron had 4 by the 5th inning and had two more chances for a 5th against soft tossing lefties.


As I remember (and I'm not gonna ruin things by looking it up) he took a fat 3-0 or 3-1 pitch on one of those last at bats. Got credit from the announcers for "playing the right way" or some nonsense. I, of course, was screaming for him to swing.


You are right about him taking a fat one. I remember him in an interview after saying he took it to "repect the game". He flew out deep to right - but for another 20 feet...

Cammie was a great guy, too, at least here in Seattle.
   42. hokieneer Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:03 AM (#4064579)
Always liked and respected Cameron. It's pretty freaking rare to see someone play an elite CF into his mid 30s while still putting up solid numbers at the plate.


His total just struck me as being on the low side.


Not as surprisingly low as Adam Everett: 0.

But having Cameron in center, Ichiro in right, and some half-way decent defensive guys in left, the Mariners turned a lot of balls hit to the outfield into outs.


I did not watch those 01-04 M's regularly, but when I did - wow that OF was a clinic (esp with Winn in LF). For my money, that was the best defensive OF* I've ever seen, and maybe ever will.




* when talking about starters/regulars. It's a whole lot easier to field a world class defense no-bat OF for 2 innings a night than to find 3 starters.
   43. KingKaufman Posted: February 20, 2012 at 05:14 AM (#4064604)
Adam Everett didn't hit enough to win any Gold Gloves. Wait, what?
   44. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM (#4064662)
Adam Everett didn't hitplay enough to win any Gold Gloves.


Seriously. Dude could pick it, but only had two seasons as an every day player. So maybe I shouldn't have "fixed" your comment, since you do have to hit enough to be in the lineup if you want to win any Gold Gloves.
   45. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:34 AM (#4064674)
Random memories/thoughts on Cameron:

Saw him rob Mark McGwire of a HR in 1998. Jaime Navarro was pitching.

The key player in return in the Griffey trade ended up having a lot more value than Griffey from 2000-onward.

He hit four homers in one game and got them all in early. In his 5th time up, he had a 3-0 count - but took the pitch instead of going for it. Professional hitter.

God that was a nasty collision with Carlos Beltran in the OF.

   46. DanG Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4064687)
Jon Heyman twaddles...

"saw mike cameron career WAR was higher than puckett, 46.7 to 44.8.
But wait, don't answer yet.

Puckett has more Win Shares than Cameron, 281 (peak years 32-31-29) to 243 (peak years 29-25-21).

Your move, MR. HEYMAN!

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