Two months ago when the Braves signed CF B.J. Upton, it seemed like everyone in Atlanta had made their peace with Michael Bourn‘s departure, and was ready to move on. But now, as we creep slowly towards the start of Spring Training, Bourn is still without a home, and little progress has been made. Early Sunday morning, Jim Bowden broke the news on Twitter that Frank Wren and his staff have not closed the door on the possibility of resigning Bourn, and immediately gave Braves country hope (probably false hope) that Bourn might consider taking a certain pay cut to return to Atlanta. So in an effort to show our 30 year-old outfielder why the grass isn’t always greener, here are the ten reasons why Michael Bourn should choose to remain in Atlanta for the 2013 season and beyond:
10. Three-headed Monster: If Bourn decides that he wants to return to the Braves outfield for 2013, he will be joining good company. With Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton already in place, Bourn would likely take over in left field and put the final touches on the fastest outfield any team has ever seen. But this speed won’t just look good on paper. Bourn will benefit greatly from moving to left field and not having to track down every ball he can possibly get to. At 30 years old, it’s no secret that Bourn’s speed will soon see a steady deterioration. On those days in mid-August when Bourn just doesn’t feel as quick as he once had, it will be a welcome sight to see B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward there to fill the gaps.
9. Dominant Pitching Staff- We featured the Braves rotation a few weeks ago as one of Atlanta’s most prominent strengths coming into 2013, but with Bourn trying to make up his mind, we’d like to take it a step further. Of Atlanta’s projected starting five (Hudson, Medlen, Minor, Maholm, Delgado) only one has a higher career fly ball than ground ball ratio. As a whole throughout their careers, Atlanta’s five starters boast a ratio of just under 2:1 ground balls to fly balls put in play. In addition to inducing almost double the amount of ground balls as fly balls, the Braves rotation is also home to four of five starters with career k/9 ratios at or over 6. With a collective career ratio of 6.82 k/9, the Braves rotation does its part in keeping the ball out of the outfield as much as possible. Bourn will continue to benefit from the Atlanta’s ground ball minded rotation in 2013, ensuring that his legs stay fresh throughout the course of the season.
8. Peaceful Fan base- Bourn and his family will be at ease knowing that they won’t have to worry about the hostile fans that makeup the New York and Philly fan bases. Except for instances of apparent and outright stupidity (see Sam Holbrook, 2012 Wild Card game), the handful of fans that stagger to the Ted nightly are downright docile.
7 B.J. Upton- We mentioned B.J. Upton’s effect on Michael Bourn in the outfield, but it’s on the offensive side that Upton will help Bourn the most. Though both players have spent a similar amount of time in the MLB, Upton’s offensive production is slowly on the rise, while Bourn’s is slowly declining. Since 2009 Upton has enjoyed an increase or maintenance of his oWAR from the previous year and has seen a 3.0 or better rating in each of those years. Upton also holds a career oWAR of 19.0 in eight seasons, while Bourn’s 11.3 oWAR over seven seasons seems to have already peaked. Upton provides Atlanta’s lineup with both power and speed, giving Bourn the ability to serve as a role hitter in the leadoff spot rather than a true table setter.
6. Fredi Gonzalez- With 2013 marking the third year that Bourn and Gonzalez have been together, and the experience of the September collapse in 2011 and the Wild Card game in 2012, the relationship they share is invaluable. From communicating about days off or establishing defensive positioning during the transition to LF, Gonzalez and Bourn will have to work together more this season than any season in the past. Gonzalez and his staff know Bourn and his abilities, and can give Bourn the opportunity to avoid the moving pains of a new team and philosophy.
5. Face of the Franchise- It seems strange to picture Bourn as the face of the Atlanta Braves, but with Chipper gone, it’s anybody’s game. Sure Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman might have a leg up for the future of the franchise, but by taking a pay cut to return to Atlanta for a chance at the World Series, Bourn’s stock will soar in the eyes of Atlanta.
4. Atlanta Climate- Being from Texas, Bourn is familiar with the summer’s sweltering heat. What he’s not accustomed to is the unpredictable climate that most of the Northeast experiences. Imagine playing late into October and having to fight the rain or sleet during the NLCS. I’d rather enjoy the balmy fall of the South, but that’s just me.
3. Familiarity- It’s simple in that ballplayers play well in places where they are comfortable. For Bourn, nothing is more familiar than Turner Field and the NL East. With a .282 career average at the Ted and 378 career at bats against the NL East’s projected 2013 pitching staffs, Bourn will do himself a favor by staying put. Don’t forget, also, that Bourn has never taken an at bat in Oakland or Seattle, two of the Ranger’s biggest divisional rivals, and has never played a game against the Los Angeles Angels.
2.World Series Title- Bourn joins the long list of players on the Braves roster who have never experienced the thrill of a championship. By signing with Atlanta, Bourn fills the missing piece in Atlanta’s powerful lineup, and gives Braves fans real reason to believe that 2013 could be the year.
1. Career Earnings- With a career earnings total of $14,855,500 over just seven seasons, Michael Bourn has made more money than he could spend in an entire lifetime. I know I couldn’t spend it all. It might be out of character for a Boras client to take less than they “deserve,” but now is the time to set a new precedent. For Bourn, winning is more important than money. Coming back to Atlanta, Bourn will give the Braves a chance to be true contenders for the World Series, and in return Frank Wren can probably fork up a couple million dollars. That’s good enough for me.