Originally posted on The Flagrant Fan  |  Last updated 11/20/12

If your team is in the free agent market, there are a few things you root for. One would be this slugging god of a player who can hit the ball over the deepest fences. A Fielder-type of guy. Another on the wish list is a stud pitcher like Greinke or even Sanchez. And perhaps you would want a stud closer such as Soriano. For most fans, signing a player like Michael Bourn would not make you beat your chest and want to go down and toast with a tasty beverage. And yet, with the way ballplayers are valued now, Michael Bourn is valued right alongside stud pitchers and the sluggers. Consider, if you will, that by what we know each "win" is now worth in the WAR statistic, Bourn's average value the last four years has been $22.05 million a season according to Fangraphs.com and $21.38 million by Baseball-reference.com. Fangraphs ranks him as the tenth most valuable position player in the majors in 2012. Our problem as fans is that defense and base running do not get us excited. When we think of offensive players, we want to think of guys who "produce." Guys like Bourn do not excite us. The guy had an ISO of .118 last season and a wOBA of .326. Those are hardly thrilling numbers for an offensive player. Heck, a 38 year old Jeter got on base more than Bourn did and had higher ISO an wOBA scores. So why would you want Bourn? Why indeed. He is your prototypical lead off batter. But his .348 on-base percentage does not fill you with excitement. His range of on-base percentages have been rather static the last four years and range from a low of .341 to a high of .354. He has never scored a hundred runs in a season. He has never had 200 hits in a season. He came close in 2011 with 193 but hit safely only 171 times in 2012 despite 700+ plate appearances. He's not a .300 hitter. He has struck out 295 times in the last two seasons combined. So again, how can a fan be excited by a team shelling out $20 million a season for Michael Bourn? The two stats that build up his value are his base running skills and his fielding. The way base running is calculated seems fairly stable and accurate. Both stat sites listed above value Bourn's base running identically. He is at the peak of his professional career. Speed ages fairly well. But how long do you want to bank on that speed? Does the fact that Bourn's 76% success rate stealing bases was down in 2012 from his career success rate of 81.1% concern anyone? He did hit ten triples which shows the guy can fly though. And then there is his defense. He plays a premier position as a center fielder. He is one of the best according to his fielding stats. Surprisingly, both stat sites listed above somewhat agree on how valuable his fielding was last season. Baseball-reference.com takes its fielding data and converts it to what they call, "dWAR," or defensive WAR. They valued Bourn's defense as being worth three wins. That's pretty astounding. We are warned by the experts to look at multiple years of defensive data to get a better perspective. Bourn was rated as spectacular in 2012 and much less than that in 2011. But if you look at four or five years of his data in defense, the spectacular happens more often. So yeah, Bourn can go get it. He has a noodle for an arm, however. But teams can live with that. But it is hard to think about paying $20 million a year for Bourn in large part because of his defense. For example, the Yankees won 95 games in 2012 despite having the worst fielding center fielder in the American League last year. The stats say that Michael Bourn is worth at least $21 million a year. There is no doubt that his agent, Scott Boras, is highly familiar with that number and valuation. The interesting questions is whether teams will agree that Bourn's base running and defense are worth that kind of paycheck. What happens with Bourn this off season will be one of the most fascinating things to watch.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Florida's Chiozza sends Wisconsin home on incredible buzzer-beater

LaVar Ball gets Crying Jordan, meme treatment after UCLA loss

Celtics upset Suns tried to pad Devin Booker’s stats

Five teams that may be interested in Blake Griffin this summer

Report: Tony Romo ‘believes it’s Texans or retirement’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Clay Matthews Sr. passes away at 88

WWE’s Kane is inching toward running for mayor in Tennessee

Jung Ho Kang denied visa for DUI, may miss 2017 MLB season

Jets not ready to say Josh McCown will be starter

Sens owner on Sidney Crosby: He’s 'a whiner' and should be suspended for Methot slash

Report: Griffin could be growing more open to leaving Clippers

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Box Score 3/24: Waiting on West Virginia

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory, World Baseball Classic (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker