I hate the format that everyone seems to go by when doing player projections. C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS etc. It gets boring, and I would hate for you guys to get bored. So let’s start it off with center field to keep things fresh.
Like Ben Duronio says, centerfield is going to be the biggest difference in production from 2011 to 2012. I agree with him on the subject and a lot of people forget that we had Michael Bourn for less than half of the season last year. Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer were the guys who manned center field for the first half of the season, and while McLouth performed better than we expected offensively, and Schafer was good defensively they don’t compare to the value that Michael Bourn will give us for a whole season.
Bourn brings great base running ability, premium defense at the second most important position, and an above average lead off bat to the table.
the rest after the break…
Here is what Scott Coleman (@scottcoleman55) of SB Nation said about Bourn through twitter:
I think a lot of you are forgetting just how valuable Michael Bourn is going to be in 2012 for a full season
Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer started 276 games in CF from 2009-2011 and were worth 0.1 WAR. Bourn played 53 and was worth 0.8
I don’t know if you guys know this but Michael Bourn is ranked third in WAR (13.8) since 2009 behind Matt Kemp (14.3) and Josh Hamilton (14.1). I feel like that is good company, especially when you throw in the fact that Bourn is one of the game’s least volatile hitters. If you don’t know what volatility means, it is pretty much saying that he is extremely consistent. It’s also interesting to see that Adam Jones was the second most volatile among the players in the least but also irrelevant to Michael Bourn. So, moving on to some stats.
I think it is interesting that Bill James is predicting such a low slash and numbers from Michael Bourn. The Braves offense is better than Houston’s and his R/RBI numbers should be as good or better because of that. I really like where Roto Champ is putting Bourn because this is a contract year for him and we shouldn’t be surprised to see him produce at the same level as he did this past year (a career year).
As long as Bourn’s OBP is around .340 he will be a great lead off hitter, and both of the projections have him around that. For his career, Michael Bourn is a .336 OBP guy and he is heading into his prime years right now.
Michael is best known for his speed and huge stolen base numbers. That’s understandable since he has taken 41, 61, 52, and 61 bases each year since 2008 respectively. The general consensus is that you need to be able to steal successfully 80% of the time or better in order to be effective. Since joining the big leagues in 2006 Bourn has stolen 234 bases and been caught stealing 51 times, good for an 82% stolen base percentage. I think it is safe to say, he should be let loose on the base paths.
Defensively Michael Bourn is regarded as one of the best center fielders in the game. I have never been big on UZR or DRS but I do think they are more effective for outfielders, so I will use UZR in this situation. Since 2009 Bourn is second in ultimate zone rating (22.9) second in UZR/150 (7.7) and is the best center fielder since he entered the league in 2006 compiling a UZR of 32.3.
Take what you will from UZR, but don’t just look at one year and give me an evaluation of someone’s defense because he checked in at –6.4 last year, good for 15th of all centerfielders.
He could still be one of the more underrated players in the game and we should be extremely excited to have the best base runner, center fielder, and one of the best lead off men in the game right now. Cross your fingers for a long term extension, but other than that you shouldn’t worry about Michael Bourn.