Who would you take, Mike Cameron or Jason Bay?
It seems like a silly question on the surface. Bay is widely considered the No. 2 position player on the free agent market behind Matt Holliday, while Cameron is largely ignored even in Milwaukee, where he has played the last two seasons.
Over at Fangraphs.com, though, Dave Cameron makes a strong case that Mike Cameron (no relation, I hope, otherwise this whole thing is a sham!) is actually the better player despite his age (36, while Bay just turned 31). Cameron will also come cheaper, making him the better value.
So how can a guy who hits for a lower average and less power (they both strike out a ton) be the better player? The answer is defense, dummy.
Cameron covers center field like a gazelle, while Bay only looks decent in left field at Fenway because Manny Ramirez preceded him there. A run saved is just as good as a run driven in right?
If you think Cameron’s on the verge of collapse (he’s shown no signs of it) and you don’t trust defensive metrics (in this case, the conclusions are pretty obviously true), then you think that they’re similarly valuable. In reality, the odds are pretty good that Cameron is going to outperform Bay next season, just as he’s done in most every season recently, and he’s going to do it for far less money.
If you want a right-handed hitting outfielder this winter, and you don’t want to pony up for Matt Holliday, Jason Bay is not the alternative. Call Mike Cameron instead.
OK. You’ve got me convinced. Now where did I leave my checkbook?