Michael Bourn reduxJanuary 25th, 2013 by terrybenish
Michael Bourn is a player the Mariners are going to sign. If you believe National correspondents such as Ken Rosenthal, local folks like Geoff Baker and Larry Stone. MLB the network brings it up seemingly on an hourly basis. The Mariners have oft injured and expensive Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders already in the fold.
The naysayers to the transaction point out that for the Mariners to sign him they would give up both their first round pick in the upcoming draft (#12) and the slotted money as well.
The argument for signing Bourn is that he is purportedly the
best defensive center fielder around. That argument rests on the
UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) stat which is hugely flawed and prone
error. In support of this assertion just in this simple example, Bourn has caught the same number of balls the last four seasons give or take in approximately same number of games: 09 371, 10 359, 11 367, 12 383. Yet is defensive UZR and his subsequent defensive WAR has shot all over the map from hugely positive to negative and back. His arm is not particularly special and his range factor although good, is only slightly better than Michael Saunders 2.59 to 2.50. He does not do anything other than catch balls and throw. UZR purports to capture the number of balls in “his” zone. It is doubtful that is accomplished.
There are center fielders that catch more balls than Bourn does, either on a total season or per game basis. Going inside out on that remark there are some young players, Peter Bourjos, Jarrod Dyson, Mike Trout, Denard Span, Austin Jackson and Andres Torres. Adam Jones dwarfs his productivity across last season at 454 total chances.
Bourn is hugely over-valued. Saunders jumped out last season and
recently on the MLB Network show Top Ten Center Fielders Right Now,
noted guru of Sabermetrics Bill James did not
have Bourn in his top ten and opined that Michael Saunders was just behind the top ten.
Offensively the last four months from July, August, September and October his OPS sunk from .701, .695, .627 and .476. His stolen bases fell off from 61 to 42 and he was caught stealing 13 times compared with 14 the previous year. He played approximately the same number of games as recent years at 155 which is to say every day.
To speculate it seems as if he might be slowing down, his walk percentage is up, strike out percentage is up. His batting average plummeted as the summer wore on, but his BABIP for the whole year was .349. Sort of Bill James, old man skills on display. Number of steals down, success percentage at stealing down.
Geoff Baker shot me a note and suggested that Saunders would be fine in the corner. Morse is right and Bay is in left according the Wedgie says that’s the deal. The only corner seems to be in Tacoma as in that scenario, Gutierrez would be the fourth outfielder. Based on how this winter has gone, by posting this it almost guarantees the Ms will sign him. I think in all seriousness the draft pick is valued very highly by Zduriencik and the loss of the pick and the money and probably eating Gutie’s money, it seems unlikely.