Monday, August 1, 2011

Michael Bourn's Value In A Nutshell (And Yes, Hunter Pence)

Let the games begin.

Hunter Pence was traded to the Phillies for two top 40 prospects. The same Pence that is hitting .306/.355/.468 with a .363 wOBA and 2.6 fWAR, has accumulated 17.3 fWAR and a career .353 wOBA in 682 games as a corner outfielder.

Michael Bourn was traded to the Braves for two mid-rotation ceilings, a fourth outfielder and a relief prospect. The same Bourn that is hitting .303/.363/.403 with a .353 wOBA and 3.6 fWAR, has accumulated 14.6 fWAR and .324 wOBA in 663 games as a center fielder.

Bourn is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. He will have 40+ steals four years in a row. The best center fielder in the game since 2009 according to fWAR? Not Andrew McCutchen, not Shane Victorino, not Curtis Granderson, not even Matt Kemp. It's Michael Bourn.

Traditional stats still control decisions for many teams. Unfortunately for Houston, it ruined their chances of a nice haul for Bourn. Pence wins the home runs and RBIs, and he had the big name everyone was talking about at the deadline. Everyone likes the shiny corner outfielder with power, right? Thankfully, the Braves know which is the more valuable and better player.

I've read what I believe is a pretty large amount of analysis on the Bourn trade across the Internet. My favorite line comes from Satchel Price at Beyond the Box Score:"The Astros didn't think that they were trading a star even though they were..."

The Astros had no idea what they had in Bourn.

Other solid analysis from the day after is below.

Sweetspot Blog (Schoenfield):
"Look, this doesn't mean Bourn is a better hitter than Pence. It means he's similar to others for his position. If you factor in just hitting and baserunning, B-R says Bourn has been about 82 runs better than a replacement-level center fielder over the past three seasons; Pence about 73 runs better than a replacement-level right fielder. Factor in Bourn's defense and he's the more valuable player."

Rob Neyer:
"The simple truth is that if you do consider defense and baserunning with any sort of rigor, you're going to conclude that Michael Bourn is, in fact, better than Hunter Pence. In fact, if you believe fWAR, Bourn has actually been the second-best outfielder in the National League since 2009."

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