Mike Cameron > Jason Bay ?

An exploration of the future…

Fangraphs had
an article recently, describing both players’ (Jay Bay and Mike
Cameron) past impact.  And ultimately coming to the conclusion that
Cameron has been more valuable than Bay in recent years.

Why you say?

Cameron is a defensive pleasure, and one that covers ground in center rather than at a corner.

Bay is a liability, disguised by the eyes that watch him, and a
giant lingering wall that takes away some of the ground he wouldn’t be
able to handle to begin with.

By the “eyes that watch him?”  Yes, Bay doesn’t look bad
out in left, in fact he looks like a definite upgrade over what we used
to watch out there.  Manny was notorious for taking funky looking paths
to the ball, and making circus catches…or circus misplays, all while
possessing terrible range.

Bay doesn’t do that.  Bay breaks to the ball, wide-eyed, alert on
making the play, and rarely does he not make the play on a ball within
his range.  But what is within his range isn’t exactly a lot.

His UZR is terrible.  And since UZR has to be taken in doses that
are greater than a year, preferably three, then Bay has been the worst
defensive left fielder in baseball, among qualifying defenders.

And my friends, the metrics don’t lie.  They may not be omnipotent, but they definitely do not lie.

Anyway, over those same three years, Cameron has, according to UZR,
been the second best defensive center fielder in the game, behind only
BJ Upton.

Not too shabby.

Basically, Bay is a very good offensive player, but gives back a lot
with his inability to be even an average defender.  Cameron however,
plays very good defense, even as he is not the same force at the plate
as Bay.

But what about now?  After all, that was the past.  Cameron is now
37.  Bay is 31.  Will Cameron still be “better” than Bay?  And what
about if Cameron were signed by an AL East tea, such as, well, how
about the Red Sox?

We know Bay can hit AL East pitching.  Even though he has a few
holes in his swing, strikes out a ton, and struggles with the breaking
stuff.  He still has the ability to work the count, draw walks, and hit
for enormous power.  And he does that against any pitching in
baseball.  Although naturally, struggles with the better arms in the
game, just like everyone else does.

Would Cameron respond well with the bat in a return to the AL?  Or
is his “success” due in large part to a weaker, inferior National
League?

That is a legitimate question, as I am not just pounding the “league
difference” argument into your head because it is such a hot topic
nowadays.  Cameron would definitely see some decline with the stick,
switching to the stronger league.  How would his defensive talents
translate into his overall game if he hit for a lower average, reached
base a little less, and slugged a few less over the fence?

The one thing, other than Cameron’s good D, that is playing in his
favor, is his “ability” to sign a one year deal, two at the most. 
Sure, he is old.  But is one year at say, $10 million much more
comforting to a front office than 4 years, $60-65 mill?

Sure sounds like it would be.

Cameron may or may not have been better than Jason Bay, it is fairly close.  And metrics aren’t perfect.

But could we really blame a front office for choosing to bring in
Cameron for one year, rather than Bay for multiple seasons?  Especially
if they happen to have a left fielder waiting in the wings?

Although subjectively, trust me, I would want Jason Bay.

Please comment at my new site.

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