Michael Bourn is Slowing Down

by Dave De Wit

In an era where stolen bases are rather scarce, Michael Bourn has been a consistent leader. For fantasy owners who missed out on the power-speed hitters in the early rounds of fantasy drafts, Bourn was a great way to catch the other teams in steals in one draft pick. However, as he’s gotten older it appears that Michael Bourn is starting to slow down.

Here are his 2013 stats:

525 At Bats
.263 Batting Average (138 Hits)
6 Home Runs
50 RBI
75 Runs
23 Stolen Bases
.316 On Base Percentage
.360 Slugging Percentage
.338 BABIP

Bourn’s raw stolen base total has dropped by 19 steals in each of the last two years, going from 61 in 2011 to 42 in 2012 and settling at 23 this year. His drop in steals is partly due to poor health, as he missed 22 games due to a thumb injury. That injury, along with regular days off, cost him 32 games this season.  That surely hurt his counting stats, but even if you extrapolate his numbers from this year over a 162 game season it would only add five more steals to his underwhelming total.

To go with his decreased steals, the 31 year old has also scored fewer runs and hit for a worse batting average and on base percentage than in the past. From 2009-2012, he averaged 93 runs per year, with a .280 batting average and a .348 on base percentage. Since his batting average on balls in play this season was right in line with his career mark, he has his increase strikeout rate and decreased walk rate to blame for his bad batting average and OBP, which in turn hurt his run total.

Bourn’s strikeout rate has risen now for three straight years, starting with 18 percent in 2009 and raising all way up to the 23 percent that it was at this year. That kind of swing and miss does a lot of damage to a hitter like Bourn who has very little power and relies on making contact and legging out singles. Between his increasing whiffs and his dropping stolen base totals, it looks like Bourn’s days as a top 100 fantasy player are behind him.

Looking ahead to next year, it’s hard to envision an instance where drafting Bourn would be wise. While his draft day value in 2014 will no doubt take a hit, Bourn has establish quite a bit of name equity that will prop him up to an overvalued level.

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