Michael Bourn has been a catalyst to the offense and has been extremely fun to watch fly around the bases and center field so far this year. It's great to see him fill a spot that has long been vacant with the Atlanta Braves (Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE)

Season So Far: Michael Bourn


Well guys, I am officially back in business on the site and I can honestly say that I have missed it. Baseball season is over for me , which is definitely a bummer, but that also means that I will be able to concentrate on Tomahawk Take more than I ever have since being with the Fansided team. Needless to say I am pretty excited.

 

So we are coming close to the end of May and I figure it’s a good time to check up on the players and decide whether they are meeting expectations or not, and if anything is just horrible or awesome happening with the guys. Who better to start off with than Michael Bourn?

Many people were underestimating the effect Bourn would have on the team because after all, he was on the team last year right? Well that’s true, but he played for the Braves for less than half of the season and actually didn’t do a terribly awesome job offensively in the AB’s he got with an Atlanta uni.

People underestimated the effect Bourn would have with a full season in the leadoff spot for the Braves before the season but they have definitely noticed so far this year.

Here are his stats so far this year compared to his Career Year in 2011 last year:

Year G PA’s BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA BABIP WAR
2011 158 722 7.3% 19.4% .294 .349 .386 .336 .369 4.2
2012 42 197 8.1% 16.8% .320 .376 .403 .348 .388 2.2

If Bourn keeps this kind of pace up he is going to be having back to back career years. I expected him to keep having a lot of success (since this is a contract year and all) but I don’t think I ever anticipated him to improve upon his 2011 campaign. Stay in line with it maybe, but not improve right? Wrong. Bourn has improved on his BB% from last year, his K% is at a career low, and his OBP is .022 points higher than it has ever been.

Bourn is also tenth in all of baseball in WAR right now ahead of guys like Robinson Cano, Carlos Beltran, Elvis Andrus, Rafeal Furcal, and Andrew McCutchen. Technically he is on pace for an 8 WAR season.

Now don’t get your hopes up, Bourn is definitely not going to come close to an 8 WAR season, for a number of reasons:

  1. His BABIP is the highest it has ever been in his career at .388
  2. His platoon split is still HUGE as he is hitting .224 against lefties compared to .377 against righties
  3. His line drive percentage is at 25.9% which is 4.8 points above his career average.

You could say that Michael Bourn has just been getting lucky lately based on his incredibly high BABIP and LD rates but that might be a bit lazy. Last season Michael Bourn actually finished second in all of baseball behind Joey Votto with a ridiculous 26.6% line drive rate. That’s higher than what he has so far this season, but in 158 games. His BABIP was also fourth in all of baseball with .369.

It’s certainly possible that Michael Bourn has been lucky this year but to say that he has been lucky for the past 200 games might be stretching it a bit. At 29 years old he is likely in the midst of his prime and his line drive rate could just be proof of this.

However the second point on the list might be a bit more informative of his future performance. For his career Michael Bourn has hit .238 against lefties, and .288 against righties. In 2011 it was slightly better at .254 against lefties and .312 against righties but this year he is hitting .224 against lefties and .377 against righties. The first mark makes sense as it is only .014 points off his career mark but the .377 average against righties just won’t be sustainable for him over the entire season.

I’m not trying to be a debby downer right now, I am just trying to make sure you know that Michael Bourn probably won’t be hitting .320 the entire year. He could still easily have a career year because he is hitting the ball better than ever and his walk rates and strikeout rates are going in the right direction (helping him keep a lovely OBP in the process) but he is not going to be an 8 or even 7 WAR player. Enjoy the ride while he is doing this well, but at the end of the season his performance is just going to make his contract situation all the more difficult.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Michael Bourn