Originally written on Indians Baseball Insider  |  Last updated 11/12/14
On successful teams or at least competitive ones it becomes easy to overemphasize or highlight specific player performance while undervaluing other complimentary production. This probably occurs because polarizing production is most interesting at least in terms of penetrating or attentional biases. Be it the recent ineptitude of Mark Reynolds or the scorched earth Jason Kipnis leaves behind we enjoy obsessing over extremes in production which is not an unreasonable thing. In fact, watching Michael Bourn plate the first two runs against the Twins Friday night probably instigated my interest in his production. One of the things that has his value flying under the radar is that entering the first game post all-star break. Bourn had played just 68 of the Indians 95 games. Outside of being the center of tremendously easy twitter hash tags like #Bourntorun, the speedy centerfielder has been an altogether uncelebrated commodity. Having missed over a quarter of the season Bourn is still on pace to be a three win player, which compared to his 2013 salary is an absolute steal. Based on just his current production Bourn’s value via WAR is 7.6 million dollars. Michael’s salary for the first year with the Tribe is seven million dollars. Even if you project his annual average salary over the course of the deal which is twelve million dollars and you then project stable production over the course that has him at a 13-15 million dollar player. First it is important to note that yes, the Indians are just a year into the Michael Bourn contract. However, it is as clear now as it was in the offseason that the Indians took advantage of a major gap in the market created by the CBA. If not for the CBA Bourn probably would have been paid B.J. Upton money or more. In fact, based on Bourn’s 2009-2012 production with reasonable expectations of sustained production he probably should have fetched sixteen million plus per year. Digressing, while Choo is having a career year in the bandbox that is called Great American Ballpark because of no compensation being tied to his name as well as the bare market probably receive a five year contract with an annual average salary around 16 or 17 million dollars. Choo is not exactly young and his injury history creates concern. Alas the point being that the Indians will receive about 85% of Choo’s production for about 65-70% of the cost. Another thing of note being, that despite this year’s injury to Bourn, he has a much lower risk of major value loss due to injury something Choo is accustomed to. Finally is fact that Choo will be a year older than Bourn was when signing his peak reward contract. Before I begin to come off as an Antonetti apologist I will shift focus to Michael Bourn’s current production and look at a few different peripherals that may affect his value as the progresses. When browsing Bourn’s profile a few things stand out: sustained major decrease in walk rate and an unforeseen BABIP inflation. The most concerning early season development has been his walk rate which we will get to in a moment but most importantly its tangible effect on OBP, which I would submit as the single most important statistic for a leadoff hitter. Year BB% O-SWING % Z-SWING% 2007 9.8 24.1 60.7 2008 7.2 24.5 55.3 2009 9.3 22.5 56.3 2010 9.8 23.2 56.6 2011 7.3 23.2 60.4 2012 10 22.5 58.9 2013 5.3 26.9 55.5 (Note 2006 not included because of particularly limited sample.) Bourn is a guy who when acquired you had to accept that his K rate could be an issue at times but that is OBP was good enough to cover it. One thing particularly concerning when you look at Bourn’s plate discipline are his struggles against secondary offerings. One of the most noticeable things be it in peripheral statistics or just the eye test from Indians fans that watch a lot of games is that he struggles to pick up and barrel curveball/slider offerings. This season’s decrease in walk rate is most clearly and easily tied to his increase in swings at pitches outside the strike zone. His zone swing percentage is not outside of career norms; however, the O-Swing % is a large shift. Another issue has been his contact rate on pitches he swings at inside the strike zone which is currently a career low. Which is important because not only is he swinging at less pitches inside the strike zone but he is also making less contact in the zone which decrease your ability to lengthen at-bats, work walks and perhaps most importantly make quality contact. Speaking of quality contact, we have to take a look at that BABIP and see if it is related to a batted ball profile shift or just an outlier season. Year BABIP LD% GB% FB% 2007 0.33 17.8 57.8 24.4 2008 0.29 16.7 53.9 29.4 2009 0.366 20.6 57.8 21.6 2010 0.329 17.5 59.4 23.2 2011 0.369 26.6 50.6 22.8 2012 0.349 21.9 53.6 24.5 2013 0.386 17.9 61.4 20.8 This first important clarification is that Bourn has had some obscenely BABIP’s in the past which has made this season less shocking than it would be for a guy like Asdrubel Cabrera. Obviously this stems from a few things but probably most importantly is the speed factor which with the right batted ball profile inflates BABIP substantially. Which you can see born out less noticeably with guys like Drew Stubbs or Choo or ben Revere. What you can see is a LD% which compared to his past two seasons would be considered a distinct disappointment but the FB% decrease is actually a valuable shift. You hate to see the decrease in LD% as it is usually directly connected to BABIP spikes. However, this is where a player like Bourn’s speed comes in to play. With the spike in groundballs Bourn’s speed as well as a little good fortune has taken advantage. His infield hit percentage is at a career high. The deal with Bourn being this, as long as his FB% shift stays his BABIP could easily maintain as both line drives and ground balls are potentially valuable contact for the speedy centerfielder. While evaluating four or five year contracts in the first year is a wholly irrational practice it appears that Bourn (outside of unforeseen injury issues) should easily produce more than the value of a clearly advantageous contract for Indians ownership. A few stats that only interest me: The Progressive Field Park Factor is 96, which represents a pitching favorable park and the third lowest number. Fangraphs has the Indians projected at 83 wins while Baseball Prospectus has them projected at 84. The Indians have a better run differential than the: Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, Angels and Diamondbacks Indians pitching BABIP against is 12th in the league at .295 Indians pitchers K/9 is third in MLB at 8.34. A really positive indicator of their ability to sustain the solid production from the starting rotation.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

More international NFL games could be on the horizon

Tyler Ulis on West Virginia: We wanted to crush their spirit

Former No. 1 pick Brady Aiken undergoes Tommy John surgery

Ortiz: 'Nobody in MLB history' tested for PEDs more than me

Sam Dekker scores career high after Aaron Rodgers' challenge

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brey Day: Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight after a vintage performance

Ronda Rousey on having kids: 'I'm an ovarian goldmine'

Pedro Martinez: Rose should be allowed in Hall of Fame

Pablo Sandoval 'cut things off at the root' with Giants

Scott Boras taking shots at Cubs' history over Kris Bryant

Kingdome debt finally paid off 15 years after demolition

An identity in flux: Harden and the collective consciousness

LeBron James makes Fortune’s list of 50 greatest world leaders

Five under-the-radar National League MVP candidates

Five bizarre NFL offseason moves that don't add up

Texas to Rick Barnes: Change your staff or you will be fired

First 'National Fantasy Football Convention' to star Tony Romo

Teams that don't deserve to win Connor McDavid Sweepstakes

How a basketball-themed art exhibit changed perceptions

Bucs admit they’ve been getting calls about Mike Glennon

The last Expo standing

NHL ships nets which have room for cameras inside posts

Toronto Raptors limping into the playoffs

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

The last Expo standing

Five under-the-radar AL MVP candidates

Michigan sent recruit's GF a letter

MLB teams that could disappoint

25 years ago, the best Sweet 16 of all time was pure madness

The 2015 bad quarterback carousel

17 facts to know before the Sweet 16

Agent: Sam was horrible at veteran combine

Keeping judo ‘pure’ in Europe means keeping MMA out

The Sweet 16 should be seen as success

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.