Just one year ago, on May 1, Mike Cameron had played in only two games for the Milwaukee Brewers. Only one year later, Cameron has played in 20 games and become the leader of the team.
Cameron missed the first 25 games of the 2008 season due to a suspension for the use of a banned supplement. Cameron returned and played a great centerfield for the Brewers and hit 25 home runs in only 120 games.
It appeared Cameron was destined to be a Brewer for only one year. Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin was very close to pulling off a trade with the New York Yankees that would have sent Cameron to the Yankees in return for Melky Cabrera.
The deal was thought to be a cost-cutting move that would allow the Brewers to spend more money on a quality starting pitcher.
Luckily for the Brewers and their fans, Melvin got inpatient with the waiting game that the Yankees were playing, and he decided to hold on to Cameron and allow him to roam centerfield in Miller Park for another season.
Cameron, 36, realizes he is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning of it, and he is doing everything possible to make sure 2008 was no fluke for the Brewers.
Cameron continues to be a great defensive centerfielder, and despite his age, he can still cover as much ground in center as anyone in baseball.
The big surprise this year however has been his offense. He is showing more discipline and generating more power at the plate than at any time in his career. He is batting .333, compared to a .251 career average.
His walks have also been a welcome site for someone that doesn't usually show patience at the plate. He is getting on base at a .430 clip, 89 points higher than his career average of .341.
Cameron's power surge is the most notable difference. He has already hit five home runs and nine doubles. He's slugging .667, an unbelievable 217 points higher than his .450 career average. The power was needed with the early season struggles of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
Although the great defense and recent success at the plate has been key for the Brewers, Cameron's leadership in the clubhouse is where he has become most valuable.
Cameron has become a mentor to Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, and he was one of the key reasons that Trevor Hoffman was willing to leave southern California for Milwaukee.
This may be the last season for Cameron in Milwaukee, but he doesn't plan on doing anything different that he has done his entire career. If the Brewers are to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year, Mike Cameron will be the one person right in the middle of it all.
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