Tag: Mike Cameron

Mike Cameron

Mike Cameron well entrenched in the Hall of Very Good


A Hall of Famer he obviously wasn’t, but Mike Cameron, who announced his retirement Sunday at age 39, might be the game’s most underrated player of the last 20 years.

Cameron nails just about all of the factors that makes a player underrated. He hit for low averages, he struck out a lot, he spent much of his career in pitcher’s parks, he changed teams frequently and he didn’t get the kind of defensive reputation early on that would have let him coast to Gold Glove awards like Torii Hunter and Ichiro Suzuki did.

But when Cameron was at his best, he was one of the top players in his league. Unfortunately, his two best seasons happened to come in Safeco Field in 2001 and in Petco Park in 2006. In 2001, he was the AL’s seventh-best player, according to Baseball-reference’s WAR. In 2006, he was the NL’s 13th best.

Cameron was more about consistency, though. From 1999-2009, he had OPS-pluses between 104-123 every year. He was a pretty exceptional defender right up until the end of that stretch, and he played in 140 games in nine of the 11 seasons.

Unfortunately, because of the kind of hitter he was, Cameron was typically typecast as a No. 6 batter. He never hit even .270 in a full season. The only time he ever led a league in anything was when he fanned 176 times for the Mariners in 2002. He drove in 110 runs in 2001, but his next highest total was 83. In 2004, he managed to drive in just 76 runs despite hitting 30 homers for the Mets.

So, no, Cameron wasn’t a superstar. He wasn’t necessarily the guy a team wanted up with the winning run on second in the bottom of the ninth (though he wasn’t exactly unclutch; he hit slightly better with runners on and with RISP than with the bases empty over the course of his career). He struggled mightily in his four postseasons, hitting .174/.309/.272 with one homer in 92 at-bats.

But as a third banana, he was quite an asset. WAR rates him the 24th best player of the aughts (2000-09), and I wouldn’t quibble with that. He comes up short just looking at his statistical line — he finished his career with a .249 average, 278 homers and 297 steals — but there were just so many pluses outside of that. He earned three Gold Gloves and deserved at least a couple of more, he was a terrific baserunner and he rarely grounded into double plays. There’s no doubt he won more games for his teams with those skills than he lost with the strikeouts.

Mike Cameron announces retirement

mike cameron ap

Mike Cameron signed a minor league contract with the Nationals in mid-December. But he won’t ever take the field wearing the curly W.

According to the Nationals’ official Twitter account, Cameron informed the team on Sunday morning that he is officially retiring from baseball.

The 39-year-old outfielder was a .249/.338/.444 career hitter over parts of 17 major league seasons. He collected 1,700 hits, 278 home runs and three Gold Gloves while playing for the White Sox, Reds, Mariners, Mets, Padres, Brewers, Red Sox and Marlins.

Cameron likely would have made the Nats’ Opening Day roster as a part-time center fielder. His absence will mean more playing time for Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina. Or Washington could put Jayson Werth in center to make room for an early arrival of top prospect Bryce Harper.

Reds sign Brett Tomko to a minor league contract


Brett Tomko’s career is about to come full circle.

According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors, the Reds have agreed to sign Tomko to a minor league contract.

Tomko, who turns 39 in April, was originally drafted by the Reds in the second round of the 1995 draft and spent his first three major league seasons with the club before being traded to the Mariners in February of 2000 along with Mike Cameron, Antonio Perez and Jake Meyer in the deal that brought Ken Griffey, Jr. to Cincinnati.

The veteran right-hander made eight relief appearances with the Rangers early last year, but spent most of the season at the team’s Triple-A affiliate, posting an ugly 6.15 ERA and 82/42 K/BB ratio over 108 1/3 innings. He’s unlikely to crack Cincinnati’s Opening Day roster.