Saturday, November 3, 2012

Would Michael Bourn be the answer at leadoff for the Reds?


One of the biggest needs heading into the offseason for the Redlegs is a more productive leadoff hitter. Cincinnati received next to no help from the guys at the top of the batting order in 2012, and that must change in 2013. To give you an idea of just how bad it was, check out the following.

The Reds ranked dead last in the majors at the No. 1 slot in average (.208), on-base percentage (.254), and OPS (.581) last season. They also ranked dead last in the National League with one homer out of the leadoff spot. That's right. One stinkin' homer. While nobody expects the man at the top to lead the team in longballs, people do expect them to be a spark and get on base.

ESPN.com's Jim Bowden recently addressed the club's woes in this area and suggested that they make a big splash this offseason to solve it.

Here's what Bowden proposes the Reds to do:

2. Cincinnati Reds sign CF Michael Bourn for five years, $70 million.

Last season, the Reds had the lowest on-base percentage out of the first spot in the batting order, and it wasn't close. Collectively, batters in the first spot of the Reds' order posted a .254 OBP -- the next-worst team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, posted a .281 OBP.

They weren't much better from the second spot either, as they posted a .310 OBP that ranked 22nd in the game. One of the chief culprits for this performance was Drew Stubbs, who spent 103 games in either the first or second spot in the batting order. Stubbs heated up in June, but started and ended the season on a sour note, and by the end of the season he was buried at the bottom of the order.
 
Enter Bourn, who is a much better version of Stubbs. Stubbs is a good defender and baserunner, but Bourn is better, and he also posted an wOBA 55 points better Stubbs' last season. After 2010, it seemed like Stubbs might be a prodigious center field slugger, but his isolated power metric has fallen the past two years to the point where he is equal to Bourn. Bourn does all of the good things that Stubbs does, but does them better and is a superior hitter. Signing Bourn would make Cincy the clear favorite in the NL Central.

All in favor, say "I". I wouldn't mind seeing Bourn patrol the center field grass at Great American Ball Park for the foreseeable future, however, not at an average cost of $14 million per year. Not only do I NOT envision the Reds having that kind of money to spend after committing huge dough to others (ie - Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips) earlier this year, but Bourn is about to hit the 30-year milestone next month as well. I can already see this being a contract that any team could potentially wind up getting burned on. Part of what makes Bourn valuable is his speed, and that is likely to go as he continues to push upward in age. I'm totally on board with signing Michael Bourn to a free agent deal...just for a little less time and a lot less money (3yrs/$30M???).

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