Originally written on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 11/14/14

The Nationals’ pitchers and catchers reported to Viera, Florida, for spring training on Sunday, but the biggest story from the team’s camp was the announcement that Mike Cameron had decided to retire. Cameron signed a minor-league deal with the Nats on December 19 and seemed to have a solid chance of earning a job as a platoon outfielder. Now 39 years old and coming off a .203/.285/.359 campaign, though, it is hard to fault Cameron for choosing to hang up his spikes.

If you made a list of the best recent players who never hit .300 in a season, you would not get too far without mentioning Cameron. If you made a list of the best recent position players who struck out in nearly a quarter of their career plate appearances, Cameron would rank near the top as well.

Cameron played for eight teams during his 15-plus year career, and did not last more than four years with any of them. He had four seasons with 4.0 or more WARP, but was only selected to one All-Star Game. He drilled more career home runs (278) than Roger Maris and Kirk Gibson—including four in one game on May 2, 2002—with considerably less fanfare.

Reading the immediate reactions to Cameron’s retirement on Twitter, it was amazing to see how many fans and pundits described him as “the most underrated player of his generation.” The sentiment was almost universal, making the lack of recognition for Cameron’s talents all the more puzzling.

Cameron was not underrated for the same reasons that turned fans away from his former teammate and fellow retiree J.D. Drew. He was never accused of being lazy, overpriced, or soft; a more fitting adjective might be un-sexy. The unimpressive batting averages and the bevy of whiffs led fans to underrate Cameron’s offense. Meanwhile, the lack of appreciation for defense during Cameron’s prime denied him the acclaim that his tremendous range and athleticism in center field should have brought.

Perhaps no single fact better epitomizes Cameron’s career than this: He was worth 42.7 WARP over his career, and earned $76.4 million in salaries. That comes out to $1.8 million per win—a price that would make any general manager’s mouth water.

As Cameron rides off into the sunset, here’s hoping he finally gets the recognition he deserves. 

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Who won the LeSean McCoy trade?

50 Cent bets $1.6M on Mayweather beating Pacquiao

Wizards apologize for odd Black History Month tribute

Report: McCoy may want more money from Bills

Andre Johnson laughed upon hearing he wouldn't start


Brad Stevens: LeBron 'looks like the MVP to me'

Le'Veon Bell tees off on Mel Kiper Jr. over Twitter

Eagles ship LeSean McCoy to Bills for Kiko Alonso

Murray would reportedly give Cowboys hometown discount

Report: Giants ‘considering a run’ at Ndamukong Suh

Darnell Dockett reportedly visiting 49ers on Tuesday

Tim Lincecum’s last best chance

Ten most underrated players in the NBA

Columbus Zoo names newborn penguin after Ezekiel Elliott

Matt Barnes blasts NBA over James Harden suspension

Joe Rogan: Ronda Rousey could beat half the men

Bills tell C.J. Spiller he won't be re-signed

Ohio State self-reported funny NCAA violation

Lupul, Phaneuf, Cuthbert threaten lawsuit against TSN

Report: Adrian Peterson has trade list of five preferred teams

Murphy disagrees with Billy Bean’s homosexual 'lifestyle'

Trent Cole has ‘no respect’ for Eagles after release from team

Ronda Rousey lands free ticket to Pacquiao-Mayweather bout

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Tim Lincecum’s last best chance

Ten most underrated players in the NBA

Stevens: LeBron looks like the MVP

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Ten most underrated NFL free agents

Five potential landing spots for Andre Johnson

Texas-Baylor fight leads to 7 ejections

Mark Cuban will be Prez in 'Sharknado 3'

Report: Redskins interested in Suh

Report: Revis likely to hit free agency

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter

MJ makes Forbes billionaire list

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.