One of the major keys to the Atlanta Braves’ offense resurgence this season begins with Michael Bourn. The Braves acquired him at the trade deadline last season and gained something that they lacked for a long time, a true leadoff hitter. Although he did not have a great ending to his season last year, he has been an irreplaceable piece of this team. One thing many may not realize is he has been the most valuable player in the National League. Matt Kemp gets all of the press, but Bourn has been worth more wins than he has.
Look at the comparison’s between Kemp and Bourn through the first 31 games of the season so far:
There has not been a hitter to rival Kemp offensively last season or so far this year. Kemp leads the NL in home runs, runs scored, batting average, slugging, OPS, OPS+ and total bases through May 10th. Likewise, there has not been a leadoff hitter to rival Michael Bourn either. Bourn has been the catalyst behind the Braves’ offense that has boomed since the first four games of the year. Kemp’s value is tied solely to offense. Bourn is valuable offensively and defensively, which is where he overtakes Kemp.
Overall, Bourn has been the most valuable player in the National League at this point. He has been worth 2.2 WAR through the first 32 games of the year. If he held up this pace, he would be worth a WAR of more than 11. To put this in perspective, Kemp was worth 7.8 WAR last year. The last player to eclipse 11 WAR in a year was Barry Bonds in 2001 and 2002. I’ll admit that the likelihood of this happening is not high.
It would be nice for Bourn to get some praise and appreciation from people around baseball. While Kemp is the “sexy” player in the media, Bourn has quietly been more impressive. I am not predicting that Bourn will be worth more than Kemp throughout the year. But, for now, Bourn has been the most valuable player in the National League at this point. The Braves know how valuable he is. Hopefully other will realize how valuable he is too. He deserves the accolades.