Detroit Tigers’ outfielder Daz Cameron has never quite been able to put it all together.
Yesterday’s game against the Cleveland Guardians gave us the full Daz Cameron experience. Solid day at the plate with two hits and an RBI, a game-saving defensive play out in centerfield, but had a mental lapse on the basepaths when he got backpicked at first base.. If that isn’t Daz Cameron in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.
The mental mistakes have arguably been the biggest reason why Cameron hasn’t stuck in the big leagues. Too many times has he either took a bad route on a ball, misplayed a ball, or made a dumbfounding out on the basepaths.
There’s never been any question about Cameron’s athletic ability. After all, that’s largely what made him a first-round pick of the Houston Astros back in 2015. Being the son of former gold glover Mike Cameron also helps.
Cameron was, of course, part of the infamous Justin Verlander trade back in 2017. His plus speed, above average defense, and decent plate discipline made him an intriguing prospect.
Cameron performed admirably across three levels of the minor leagues in 2018, ending the season in Triple-A Toledo. His strong stint with Double-A Erie is what earned him the promotion over the last couple weeks of the season.
Daz’s 2019 spring training was one to remember. Coming into camp, there was no way he was going to make the big league roster, but he made the Tigers think about it. He hit .357 with an OPS of 1.223. The organization decided it was best for him to marinate a bit more in Triple-A. As it turns out, that was the right call.
Cameron struggled mightily with the Mud Hens in 2019, batting just .214 and striking out a bunch. He did so show some strong plate discipline with an OBP of .330, but the 2019 season was a major setback for Daz.
He made his MLB debut on Sept, 9, 2020 against the Milwaukee Brewers, going 0-for-3. He really struggled in 17 games, and any optimism about his future was all but gone.
Before Sunday’s game, the high point of his career thus far was when he hit a game-tying two-run in homer in the ninth inning off White Sox closer Liam Hendricks on the first pitch after a rain delay. It was his first major league home run.
On Sunday, he used that athleticism to his advantage. Guardians outfielder Amed Rosario hit a ball to deep centerfield. He thought he had got a hold of one. But Daz had other ideas.
He made a leaping catch at the wall, then proceeded to get the ball in quickly to double off the runner at first base. That is the kind of awareness that the Tigers have been waiting for.
But too often does he lack said awareness. Earlier in that same game, he was backpicked by Austin Hedges after he was caught leaning at first base. This was after he was nearly picked off the previous pitch. If he was still a young kid without a lot of experience, this would be understandable. But now at 25 years old, stuff like that just isn’t acceptable.
Daz Cameron has always had the makings of a solid major league outfielder, but has never been able to put it all together. If it’s not one thing, it’s another with him. He should be better than he is. Heck, he should be good enough to start everyday for this team. But he’s not, and that’s frustrating.
Who knows, maybe yesterday’s game is the start of a turnaround for Daz, but I’m not holding my breath.