I had an idea for another trivia question based on Michael Bourn’s combination of whiffs and lack of power. Here is the list of all seasons in MLB history where a hitter had at least 130 K’s and no more than 3 HR.
I was shocked to see how unique of a player Michael Bourn is. If I make it > 120 Ks and < 5 HR, 17 seasons come up, with active players Austin Jackson, Emilio Bonifacio, and Dexter Fowler, plus three consecutive seasons by Gary Pettis, and one by Vince Coleman and a few others. Speed is the common denominator with most of this group, and they need their wheels to keep their BABIP high enough to provide value with their bat.
Bourn’s slash line last year was .294/.349/.386 with a .369 BABIP, good for about +12.5 runs above average. Now I will keep his same power, BB, and K rates, but adjust his singles count to lower his BABIP to .329, still a well above-average figure. Suddenly his line reads .263/.320/.355, good for about -2.2 RAA. That is about a win-and-a-half difference between the two BABIPs, and it could be a lot more if his BABIP would drop .300.
This should not be confused with the statement “BABIP affects Bourn more than most.” This is not true, since BABIP will be most influential on players with the most balls in play, i.e. less strikeouts (Ichiro-type). My statement is “Bourn needs a high BABIP to be effective.” This is why players of his type tend to be early flameouts, unless they learn to hit for power.
This leads us to his contract situation. He is a free agent at year’s end, and as a Boras client, he will test the market. He is off to a great start this year, raising his price even more. I hope the Braves don’t give a lot of money to a player in his 30’s who relies solely on his legs for value.