Indians 2014 preview and predictions: Michael Bourn

Michael Bourn - Jason Miller

Michael Bourn didn't quite meet expectations last year after signing one of the biggest free-agent contracts in club history. Will our speedy leadoff man rebound in 2014?

This post is part of a contest in which you could win a free Let's Go Tribe t-shirt. In order to enter, just copy and paste the template at the bottom of this post into the comments, then fill in each category with your own prediction for how this player will do in 2014. Position players and pitchers will be featured as two separate contests. You need not submit predictions for every single player in either contest in order to win, but doing so will increase your chances, as points will be awarded separately for each player.

For position players, you'll be asked to predict each player's plate appearances (PA), home runs (HR), stolen bases (SB), batting average (BA), on-base percentage (OBP), and slugging percentage (SLG).

Find every previous entry in the series here.

The comments on each post in this series will remain open through Saturday, March 29.

Michael Bourn

2013 Recap

After an impressive 2012 campaign when he was considered one of the top center fielders in the league, great things were expected of Michael Bourn when he signed with the Indians last year. Instead of an elite outfielder with deadly speed, we got a pretty average leadoff man who had a difficult season adjusting to life in a new league. Bourn had a mediocre year with the bat, with a line of .263/.316/.360 and 6 home runs. Perhaps the biggest disappointment though was his base stealing, acquiring just 23 stolen bags last year, a significant drop-off from his usual numbers. Bourn's success rate also dropped to 66% after it stood at 81% in the previous seven seasons. He was held back by injury most of the year, missing a good chunk of games during April and May due to a finger laceration. He also played hurt with a bad left hamstring that got progressively worse as the season went on, negatively effecting both his offensive and defensive performance.

Recent Stats

Year Age Tm Lg G PA H 2B 3B HR SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2011 28 TOT NL 158 722 193 34 10 2 61 53 140 .294 .349 .386 .734 103
2012 29 ATL NL 155 703 171 26 10 9 42 70 155 .274 .348 .391 .739 99
2013 30 CLE AL 130 575 138 21 6 6 23 40 132 .263 .316 .360 .676 93

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com

2014 Preview and Projections

Bourn had surgery on his hamstring immediately after the 2013 season ended and shouldn't be hindered by it any longer. This is good news because Bourn needs his legs to be in peak condition; speed is his entire game. He's never been outstanding with the bat but always threatens on the base paths (not to mention how important his speed is to his defensive abilities). With a healthy pair of legs under him, Bourn can hopefully recover as a leadoff man in 2014. For starters, he should look to improve his OBP this year, get it back in the range of .340 and above like he used to. To help with that, he must try and draw more walks: his 7% walk rate in 2013 was the lowest of his career. To make matters worse, his 23% strikeout rate was also a career low and a worrying trend that has increased every year since 2010. Despite the declining numbers and the fact he's now on the wrong side of 30 (turned 31 in Decemeber) Bourn doesn't seem worried: "I always strike out a lot, but I always get my hits."

Here are a variety of projections for Bourn's 2014 season, all of which are available on his player page at Fangraphs, where you can find more detail, if you're so inclined:

System PA HR SB BA OBP SLG
Steamer 640 6 31 .260 .325 .357
Oliver 600 7 24 .256 .314 .355
ZiPS 642 6 34 .257 .317 .352

My Two Cents

I think we have to live with the fact that Indians fans are unlikely to ever see the Michael Bourn of previous years again, the man who stole 50+ bases every year and played an elite center field. 2013 was an average year by Bourn's standards and it's likely what we'll get in 2014, another average yet solid season from a man whose legs just don't quite have the juice in them like he used to in his 20's. I have a feeling he'll steal more bases than he did last year as he's had time now to adjust to the American League, but it's unlikely he'll reach 40+ again in his career. Mark me down for 620 plate appearances, a .260/.320/.353 line, 7 home runs and 30 stolen bases.

Your Turn

You're welcome just to pull numbers out of thin air, but if you want to commute the rate stats more scientifically, here are some easy to use links that will help you with batting average, with on-base percentage, and with slugging percentage.

To submit your entry, simply copy-and-paste the text below into a new comment, then fill in your predictions:

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