The Hitter's You Wanted For The Braves

An off day with little happening news wise gives me the chance to follow-up my post about the hitter many of us think we need if we don’t know his name. Let’s see who your choices were, you may be surprised.

First who they weren’t. They weren’t option 1 – Josh Willingham, 3 –  Ryan Ludwick or option 4 – Coco Crisp. Willingham’s reputation has suffered in the Oakland dungeon of a ballpark as has Crisp’s. Ludwick play sin Petco of course and had a slow start to the season but I wager a few people are surprised that since he was on the list he received no support.  On to those who did get some support. Your first choice in our blind ballot was Option 5  – Michael Bourn.

Michael Bourn is a superior center fielder and the NL base stealing leader (32 for 35 ; 91.5%.) He’s inexpensive at 4.4million this year (about half that left now) and arbitration eligible so under team control next year if tendered. His average, on base and slugging (created through extra base hits created with his speed) added to those stolen bases mean he will earn a hefty increase but should still be affordable.  There are only two real issues with Bourn, his lefty/lefty split and his agent.

Bourn hits 70 points less (.231 –.303) against lefties, which of course means his OBP is lower (.302 – .370) and he slugs less (.321– .417). Over the last three years his numbers have stabilized at about today’s levels which indicates a high probability this is where he will be for four or five years barring injury or big contract-itis.

His agent is Scott Boras.

The latter may be why the Astro’s would listen to a trade. Your second choice was Option 7; Chris Denorfia. I know, Who?

Denorfia came up through the Reds organization but got his first real shot with the Padres last year. He’s a fast (though not Michael Bourn fast) outfielder who does his best hitting in the leadoff spot but he’s been moved around the order and continued to produce. He’s slightly better against lefties .304/.375/.554 than righties .292/.333/.392 with the largest drop being extra base hits. Oddly his BAbip against right handed pitchers is higher (.333) than against lefties (.283), though that could be a factor of his having half the number of at bats against left handers. He’s signed at $800K through this year and arbitration eligible the next two years. He won’t get the big bump Bourn will and his agent isn’t Scott Boras. . . yet. The third choice in our poll was option 2; our old friend Jeff Francoeur.

Frenchy left town under a cloud because he wouldn’t listen to those who tried to help him control his swing and learn to be more selective. In the interim he’s bounced around quite a bit and seems to have finally figured out that he needs to be more productive.  He still strikes out of course but he has as many sacrifice flies already as he had in all of 2007 or 2008 and only two short of his 2009 total. He’s also stealing bases; he’s 10 of 10 this year that has helped power/speed numbers and his total average and his runs created are up too.  Those are stat head numbers of course but what the indicate is that he’s a more mature player who makes better use of his tools in run producing situations. Frenchy was well liked and hus best buddy Brian McCann is rapidly becoming the face of the Braves. The coaches he upset aren’t a factor; Bobby Cox retired and Terry Pendleton is  is no longer the hitting coach. The fans would forgive him if he delivered and he would love to have a shot at redemption. His contract is a million so about half of that is left and he’s a free agent at the end of the year. He is of course a gold glove outfielder as well. He fits even if some hate to admit it. The last choice with a vote was option 6; Marlon Byrd.

There’s been no talk about Byrd on the street but the Cubs are about to blow things up and Byrd is no kid and he makes 6.5 million next year. Any money the Cubs free up is a plus for them. He’s a good to plus fielder whose UZR is 3.3 with a plus 3.6 range and an average arm. All numbers however are better than the oft coveted – even by me – Hunter Pence. Byrd can also hit. He’ll provide 15-20 homers a year and drive in 70 or so. His BAbip currently .376, has been over .330 for the last three years. He doesn’t walk much and strikes out about 20% of the time (as does Pence) but his OBP is consistently .330+ and his slugging always over .400. Pence’s numbers are better but they create about the same number of runs per game (5.2). His advantage over Pence is that Byrd is probably available at a known price for next year . Oh and he’s ditched Scot Boras a couple of years back.

What do you think of your choices now?

Tags: Right Handed Bat

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