Monday, December 29, 2008

What the heck happened, Michael Bourn?

Prized prospect. Center fielder of the future. Dangerous speed, above-average power. Well, at least he has the speed part in the bag.

What the heck happened? He was the center-piece in the Lidge deal - which, I've said it before and I'll say it again - there's no way Lidge does what he did in '08 in Houston.

Let's take a look at Michael Bourn...

Some surface level stats:
.242 against righties. .190 against lefties. / .249 at home. .210 on the road.
.190 during the day.

April - .195 / May - .214 / June - .274 / July - .261 / August - .137 / September - .274

Three teams he drilled: The Yankees (.455), the Cubs (.333), the Pirates (.354).
Three teams he crapped the bed against: The Giants (0-for-21), the Dodgers (.129), the Nationals (.118).

Hits .346 on the first pitch, .333 at 0-1. When behind in the count (0-1, 0-2, 1-2), Bourn hit .204 (32-for-157). So the key is to not swing at bad pitches, right? That's stupid advice, because everybody has that goal.

Let's take a look at his opposition. We'll consider pitchers he faced in 5+ at-bats.

Chicago Cubs:
Carlos Zambrano, 1x7; Ryan Dempster, 2x6

Cincinnati Reds:
Bronson Arroyo, 1x6; Johnny Cueto, 3x5

Colorado Rockies:
Aaron Cook, 0x7; Ubaldo Jimenez, 0x5

Florida Marlins:
Ricky Nolasco, 0x6

LA Dodgers:
Chad Billingsley, 1x7; Hiroki Kuroda, 0x6

Milwaukee Brewers:
Manny Parra, 2x8; Dave Bush, 2x5

NY Mets:
John Maine, 2x6

Philadelphia Phillies:
Adam Eaton, 2x7; Brett Myers, 2x6; Kyle Kendrick, 4x6

Pittsburgh Pirates:
Ian Snell, 4x10; Ross Ohlendorf, 3x7; Tyler Yates, 1x5

San Francisco Giants:
Tim Lincecum, 0x5

St. Louis Cardinals:
Adam Wainwright, 2x9; Kyle Lohse, 0x8; Brad Thompson, 0x5

Bourn also has an interesting hitting zone, as well. He hits well up and outside, yet chases pitches inside (63%) and low (70%). So it's like Bourn doesn't really know his own strike zone. He pulls the ball, too - 41% of the balls in play go to right field.

Reason for hope (albeit wary hope - the most satisfying kind):

1. He showed a tremendous amount of improvement in the Dominican League this winter.

2. September was perhaps his strongest month of the season, meaning that April-August was a very steep learning curve. September featured Bourn's highest OBP and AVG (tied with June).

3. Really, 2009 can't get much worse, right?