There’s something to be said for the man who forces Mike Trout to move over to left field. Like… how on earth? I know. That’s how good Los Angeles Angels OF Peter Bourjos is in the field. That good. Better than the guy who leaps over fences like sidewalk curbs or… should I say… the rest of his competition?
It’s why he ever made it to the Show. Bourjos’s prowess landed him in the MLB in 2010, and quickly displayed what the Angels management saw in his defense — this isn’t necessarily fantasy-related, but let’s pay tribute for a second. Let’s look at Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), a FanGraphs statistic that aims to incorporate Outfield Arm runs-above-average (ARM), Double Play runs-above-average (DPR), Range runs-above-average (RngR) and Error runs-above-average (ErrR).
Furthermore, let’s look at UZR/150 games played because we’re comparing when the two are on the field together. As you might have guessed from the entire lead-up you just read, Bourjos actually blows everyone away defensively as much as Trout did fellow rookies last year. Bourjos displayed defense worthy of a 47.2 UZR/150 in 2010 and a 40.8 UZR/150 in 2012. Compare that to Trout, who had a 13.0 last year, Torii Hunter, who had a 15.9 in his best year, 2003, Michael Bourn, 18.0 in 2010, Ichiro, 20.2 in 2003, Franklin Gutierrez, 29.0 in 2009. It’s unreal, and he’s getting better.
But now to why you’re here. Since his call-up, Bourjos has shown flashes of offensive ability, too. In his rookie year, 2010, Bourjos scuffled with a pathetic .237 On-base Percentage and 8:1 BB-K ratio in 51 games. It was ugly.
But in the following year, Bourjos saw drastic improvement: in 147 games and a standard 502 at-bats, Bourjos increased almost every facet of his hitting. He increased his OBP (.327), BA (.271) , SO/BB (3.88), Line Drive Percentage (11%), BABIP (.338) and I could keep going. His SB% decreased, but that comes standard, and it was still 71 percent anyway. Bourjos was primetime. He was the new starting center fielder for a team that was ready to round the corner into contention and ready to dip into free agency, as proven by the recent Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson signings.
But then it happened. Bourjos got injured. In an injury-ridden season last year, Bourjos saw a major decline in BABIP, BA and OBP. He starting losing at-bats, but that’s also because, well, he was injured and injured guys don’t tend to play everyday. It wasn’t all lost, though. Bourjos continued to decrease his strikeout rate, which shows that his skills and hands were still there, just not the rest of his body.
Now in 2013, Bourjos is as healthy as ever and has as clear a spot in the lineup as he’s ever had. He’ll get everyday at-bats because of his defense, and is settled into the nine-hole in the batting order, which isn’t that good unless, oh yeah, Mike Trout is batting lead-off.
The ballpark isn’t conducive to power, but that’s not necessarily Bourjos’s game. He’ll leg out a ton of those signature Bourjos triples, will steal plenty of bases and can score a ton of runs in front of the insanely-potent top of the Angels lineup. If healthy, Bourjos can steal you 30 bases, hit you 15 homers and give you a respectable .270 batting average. Not to mention, a guy with his speed can definitely find himself with a BABIP higher than .338.
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