Feb 24, 2014; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Bourn took part in the annual photo day at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Bourn: 2014 Cleveland Indians Player Profile

Michael Bourn Looks to Improve in Year Two

Hey buddy, you want a Turboman doll?

That’s what I felt when Michael Bourn came to the Indians in a surprise deal last February on a four year deal – the best toy ever just got given to me. Jason Kipnis (local) famously tweeted the thoughts of every Indian fan, as it was understandably a big surprise. After all, who do the Indians think they are, actually affording free agents? Luckily for them, Scott Boras is a rock head and thought Mike could get somewhere near $100 million. As crazy as baseball contracts have gotten, a speed guy on the wrong side of 30 shouldn’t sniff that. Unless the Yankees or Red Sox are in need, I suppose. Regardless, the Indians struck gold very suddenly and got themselves a starting center fielder who, if the Indians aren’t contending, is easily movable with a team friendly deal.

Who is your daddy and what does he do?

How would Bryson Bourn answer that, and does he think Jason Bourne is his uncle? Bourn’s value comes mostly from his defense and baserunning, though some nagging injuries sapped him of some ability last season, plus the leap to the AL surely had a bit of an effect. He sure is fast though, and the way he plays defense looks so lackadaisical even if he covers ground like frosting on cake. A properly made cake, unlike this simile. Not one of those sheet cakes, those are a lie.

Here’s what The Identity did last year:

 

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

R

HR

SB

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

2013

575

.263

.316

.360

7.0

23.0

75

6

23

.300

91

2.0

He was probably supposed to be better than all this, he set career lows in a lot of categories and when he didn’t he barely tickled his career averages. Defensively he was a bit underwhelming, despite my earlier praise of his cake frosting abilities. He had several blunders in big moments, including losing the ball in the sun in a late season tilt against the Tigers and a few oddly played missed catches at the wall. Perhaps he’s simply getting used to the layout of Jacob’s Field, but that has to be behind him now. He may have come cheap considering what he wanted when the 2012 season ended, but he still has to be a top player for this team.

Get your ass to Mars

But really, don’t look for out of this world play this season. There’s not much to expect out of Bourn that we haven’t seen already, though a bit more OBP would be a wonderful thing. Francona loves using him at the top of the order and by traditional considerations he’d end up there 10 times out of eight. He’s just so Kenny Lofton. But .316 is not what you’d like to see, the guy needs to take more walks or lean into a pitch or two or something. He’s great on the basepaths, albiet a bit too daring and he’s still got the speed, but if he doesn’t get on base, this team is going to suffer. One bonus, Bourn doesn’t hit into double plays like ever.

Hey! How about some projections?

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

R

HR

BB%

K%

SB

wOBA

WAR

wRC+

Steamer

640

.260

.329

.361

80

6

8.8

21.9

31

.304

2.8

95

Oliver

600

.256

.314

.355

69

7

7.3

23.0

24

.298

3.0

89

Merritt

650

.275

.338

.360

85

8

8.5

21.5

29

.318

3.5

98

Please note, mine use a secret, amazing formula that’s only available to those who ask nicely. It involves the words “yeah, that sounds about right” a lot. Plus I’m assuming he’ll be more comfortable with AL pitching this time around. But according to these “legitimate” projections, Bourn will be anywhere from the same to worse than ever to career year, which is why I like projections. They allow for such easy cherry picking and often don’t seem to ever be that bold or surprising. We do know Bourn will be in the Best Shape Of His Life (™) because that’s what happens, but if he wants to keep that speed and explosiveness he’s known for, we all must hope he found the wonders of hatha yoga.

But seriously, if Bourn performs near his career average, and we have no reason to believe he won’t, the Indians will be very happy with him. So much of his value comes from defense and that took such a step back last season, but it’s also probably the most volatile aspect of a player’s game. He’ll never be Kenny Lofton,  but he can still be Michael Bourn, and that’s not too bad.

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