It's easy to get caught up in some of Mike Cameron's numbers. For instance, his lifetime .250 batting average. Or, if you don't like the whiffs, his 1,798 career strikeouts (that's nearly one strikeout per game).
But that's only part of what Cameron brings to the table. When we look at the total package, you'll see he's quite valuable -- even moreso than Jason Bay and David Ortiz.
Combined.OTM's sister site Brew Crew Ball dedicated a post to the farewell of Cameron after he signed with the Red Sox. Cameron's exit didn't cause a huge buzz in Milwaukee, but maybe it should have:
He accumulated WARs of 4.1 and 4.3 in his two seasons with Milwaukee. 8.4 over the past two years puts him just behind Ryan Braun (8.8) and Prince Fielder (9.5) for the team lead over that span of time. Cameron was the Brewers' third most productive player over the past two years, and now he's gone, with little fanfare.
I don't consider myself a fan of the Brewers, but would anyone else expect Cameron to be the Brew Crew's third most productive player the last two seasons? Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are good players, so I didn't expect Cameron to even be in their league. Wrong.
Cameron's 8.4 WAR (if you're unfamiliar, click here for more information on this stat) ranked third on the Brewers, but it got me thinking. How would that rank against his new Red Sox teammates?
NAME 2008 2009 TOTAL WAR
Pedroia 6.7 5.2 11.9
Youkilis 5.6 5.6 11.2
Drew 4.2 4.7 8.9
CAMERON 4.1 4.3 8.4
Ellsbury 3.3 1.9 5.1
Lowell 3.2 1.2 4.4
Bay 0.6 3.5 4.1
Ortiz 2.0 0.7 2.7
OK, I may have fibbed the truth a little in the intro. Sure, Cameron had a better two-year WAR than both Ortiz and Bay combined, but that was factoring in Bay's half season with the Red Sox -- not the entire thing. On the year in '08, Bay was good for a 2.9 WAR -- still nothing impressive.
Regarding Ortiz and his WAR numbers, he's at a disadvantage because he doesn't play the field. However, playing the field would most likely hurt his overall numbers (since he isn't that graceful of a defender). Ortiz's 0.7 WAR from last year seems a tad low, even for the aging slugger. The first half of the year really hurt Ortiz.
It's also not the most reliable thing to compare WAR numbers of a player in the National League to the American League. With Cameron aging and the transition to a new club and a new league, it's not exactly accurate to think Cameron would keep up these numbers. He could improve his numbers playing in Fenway, but with an aging ballplayer, the bottom line is you never know what to expect.
With all that aside, the raw numbers are interesting to look at. Cameron just may be a more important asset to the team than some think (and all for around $8 million).