Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 4/29/12
Michael Bourn is doing exactly what the Braves hoped and certainly thought -- he would. He's hitting and darting and dashing and tracking down everything hit in Atlanta's 404 area code. Bourn is the Braves' first true leadoff hitter in seven years and their best center fielder since Andruw Jones waved goodbye to Atlanta in 2007. And he's playing like it. In large part because of Bourn's ability to reach first and his god-given gift of moving swiftly to second, third and then home, the Braves entered Saturday leading the National League in runs. When he started hitting, the Braves started scoring, and more important, winning. Bourn has hit in 13 of the past 15 games, an ultra productive streak that has raised his average from .125 on April 11 to its current .326. He banged out two more singles in four at-bats on Saturday to make him 25 for his past 60, a .417 average over that stretch. He's reached base in 24 of past 43 plate appearances. And with Bourn doing what he does best getting on base and scoring runs -- it's no coincidence the Braves have won 13 of their past 17 games. "Ever since Mike Bourn has started hitting, setting the table, it's just been kind of a domino effect right on down the line," Chipper Jones said. The Braves had been searching the ends of the earth for a center fielder and leadoff hitter for years. It seemed to be a quest with no end. Any team speed left when former shortstop Rafael Furcal signed with the Dodgers more than seven years ago and Jones decided that stealing bases was no longer part of his skill set. He then followed Furcal in wearing the Dodger Blue, leaving the Braves slower than a dial-up modem and with a massive cavern in center field. The next few years were a rotating door there, with a lackluster cast of players such as Mark Kotsay, Josh Anderson, Nate McLouth, Jordan Schafer, Rick Ankiel, Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco providing little to no stability or security. So when the Astros held their annual yard sale last summer, the Braves quickly dashed to grab Bourn for a truckload of prospects, including Schafer. He did more than take over center, he immediately solved their plodding ways. No Brave had stolen more than 17 bases in a season since Furcal in 2005. It took Bourn only 53 games to steal 22. "He's been doing that his whole career," catcher Brian McCann said. "That's why he's one of the best center fielders in the game. He's going to be there all year. That's what he does." As expected from a guy who leads the majors with 222 steals since 2008, he's among the league leaders with seven this season, but his arrival has had an unexpected impact. Jason Heyward has been watching and learning from MLB's premier base thief, gaining tips on how to take a lead and read pitchers in addition to timing their releases. Heyward stole his eighth base in eight attempts on Saturday, a swipe of third that wasn't close. Even though Bourn didn't add any steals to his career total of 241 on Saturday, his speed was evident in center and at the plate. He ranged to the warning track to grab a fly ball in the first inning and then flew to his right to track down a liner in the third, saving runs on each occasion. Bourn burned a patch to first to beat out an infield single and try to spark a rally in the fifth, but the Braves following him couldn't send him home. He then singled to lead off the eighth, but his speed might have backfired. Bourn attempted to steal second, and his dash sent Pirates second baseman Neil Walker heading toward the bag. He found himself in perfect position to field Martin Prado's grounder up the middle. Walker scooped it up, stepped on second and fired to first to complete a double play and squash the Braves' scoring opportunity. That play, a freak of bad timing and ill fortune for the Braves, won't keep them from unleashing their speedy weapon. They love this new dimension on the bases and the defense he provides on the green grass of center field. " To see him run, you can never complain about that," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Brady would be 'very jealous' if Manning wins Super Bowl

John Elway takes swipe at John Fox

Jets DT: I won't watch a Super Bowl 'until I play in one'

Hall of Fame coach: Stephen Curry is the best of all time

Reggie Bush on NFL future: ‘I’m not retiring’

Derek Fisher blasts Rondo over triangle offense criticism


Report: Marshawn Lynch hasn't spent any playing money

Ex-King says he could do 'much better job' than George Karl

Trainer thought Thomas Davis would not play in Super Bowl

Todd Gurley named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Durant, Westbrook on loss to Warriors: We're not scared

Report: Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

WATCH: Tom Brady booed during Super Bowl 50 MVP ceremony

Cam Newton's cleats have 'MVP' and stats written on them

Concession prices incredibly high at Super Bowl 50

Fan at Super Bowl 50 wears awesome dual-team jersey

Skip Bayless whiffed badly on Cam Newton prediction

Stephen Curry to serve as guest drummer for Panthers

Charlie Sheen tweets advice for Johnny Manziel

Cardale Jones predicts he will play in Super Bowl

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Marcin Gortat fires back at critic on Twitter

WATCH: Kerr told Warriors he was happy to have close game

Broncos could have tough decision with franchise tag

WATCH: Steph Curry does 'Dab' on court on eve of Super Bowl

MLB 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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker