Michael Bourn 2015 Season Preview: Bounce Back or Bust

 

Sep 24, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians center fielder Michael Bourn (24) scores a run as Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) attempts the tag in the fifth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Could Bourn Be Back To His Base Stealing Ways?

Bad seasons happen in MLB. Poor seasons usually happen because of some combination of a deterioration of skills, an injury or just bad luck. It appears in 2014 all of the above could have happened to Michael Bourn. The 2015 season seems to be shaping up as a potential boom-or-bust year for Bourn, one that could see him excel to what fans and the front office thought they were going to see when he was signed two winters ago, or one that could see him possibly playing for a different team before the season’s end (you can read the Wahoo’s On First Yo Bro/No Bro argument on whether or not Bourn should be traded here).

Bourn had a not-so-great 2014, and you can find my review of his horrible season here, so I won’t rehash much of it, but I will tell you this: it sucked. Injuries caused him to miss a large chunk of the year, and when he wasn’t on the DL, those hamstring issues were limiting what we could see on the field.

This year, however, has seemed to turn Bourn’s way. He has been training in Houston, where he lives in the offseason, with a former Olympian sprinter Leroy Burrell, reports Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes. This is great news for Bourn fans, as any help Bournie could get to “wreak havoc” on the bases paths is greatly appreciated.

Steamer does not have high of projections for Bourn, as to be expected with a decrease in production these past two years. A slash line of .253/.313./.349 with 19 steals in 602 plate appearances is in line with what he has produced thus far as a Tribesman.

ZiPS is a wee bit more generous, predicting .257/.313/.359 with 22 steals in 591 PA’s, but still close to numbers he recently posted. Bourn is aging player coming off an injury-plagued year, so low projections are to be expected. The number of plate appearances for Bourn stick out, as hitters in the nine-hole don’t rack up so many at bats, so both systems project Bourn to be leading off. It could be argued that he is best used near the bottom of the lineup until his OBP climbs upwards, but most around the industry agree Manager Terry Francona will most likely use his center fielder as his leadoff hitter.

And count Francona as someone who is impressed with the work Bourn is willing to do.

“You don’t see a lot of veteran players do what Bournie did,” said Francona. “Brad Mills (bench coach) went and watched him workout and said he’s really getting after it. He understands what we need from him. When he gets on base, he has to disrupt the game. He wants to do it really bad, he just wasn’t in position to do it the last couple of years. Hopefully, those injuries are limited and he can use his legs because he’s a huge part of what we do.”

The best we can hope for is a healthy 2015 for Michael Bourn and a return to the base paths as well. Let’s hope that the work that Bourn has put in this offseason is worth it, or else we could be seeing the formerly fleet-footed centerfielder shagging flies in far off fields.