The Replacement: Jason Bourgeois

It looks like Michael Bourn may be done for the season. Good thing the Astros already cloned him, and renamed him Jason Bourgeois. Tin foil hat conspiracy's aside, Bourgeois is a similar player to Bourn, he's a light hitting centerfielder with speed. The most notable difference is Bourgeois bats from the right side. Both players were born in Houston, played on the same little league team, and both were drafted out of high school by a Texas Major League team. Bourn decided to go to college at the University of Houston, Bourgeois signed with the Texas Rangers, who drafted him in the second round.

Bourgeois spent five years in the Rangers system before being selected off waivers in March of 2005 by the Atlanta Braves. At the end of the 2006 season he was granted free agency, and then signed with Chicago White Sox. He played two season in Chicago's Minor League system, while also making his Major League debut on 9 September 2008. At the end of the 2008 season he was granted free agency, and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Astros selected him off waivers from Milwaukee on October 26 2009.

This past Spring Training Bourgeois had a batting line of .321/.412/.500, but ultimately lost out to Cory Sullivan because of an injury that kept him off the field and he had one other fault, he isn't left handed. And we know how much Mills loves his righty/lefty match-ups. Not having a left handed hitting outfielder would be a determent to the match-up game. He was sent to the minors to begin the season, but was called up two and half months later on 21 June to replace...[gasp]...Sullivan. Since being called up he's hit for a .234/.317/.290 line in 120 plate appearances.

Bourgeois does a lot of the same thing Bourn does well. He's got the speed, to steal a bag, cover the spacious centerfield in Minute Maid Park, and beat out an infield dribbler. Taking a gander at their Minor League offensive numbers Bourgeois and Bourn have an identical batting average and slugging percentage. Looking at their on base percentage you begin to see a difference in the two. Bourgeois strikes out less putting the ball in play more, but as a result he also walks less. Bourn also has a better stolen base percentage than Bourgeois, but that's not to say Bourgeois is a bad base stealer. In the minors Bourgeois had a 76% success rate at stealing bases, good but not as good as Bourn's 85% success rate in the minors.

In the majors, defensively, the advanced statistics conflict on Bourgeois defense in the outfield. Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) thinks he's a below average defender while Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) has him as an above average defender. But that's not what we've all seen so far. I'm confident in saying he is the only outfielder on this team that can even attempt to fill Bourn's shoes in centerfield. If he's not as good as Bourn defensively he's close, very close. Their is a sample size issue here with the advance defensive statistics. Earlier in the season Bourn was considered a well below average player, after a season of diving and running down balls in the gaps, Bourn leads the National League in DRS and the Major Leagues in UZR. I'm certain with a bigger sample size we'll see an improvement in Bourgeois defensive statistics before it's all said and done.

We've kicked around the idea the possibility of platooning Bourgeois and Bourn in centerfield. Bourn is absolutely dreadful against lefties, he's posted a .233/.289/.302 line for his career. And he's been no better against lefties this year posting a .229/.292/.263 line. Common sense would suggest platooning Bourgeois against left handed starters would compliment Bourn. Unfortunately this is not the case, at least not in a significant way. Bourgeois has a .250/.300/.310 line against righties so far in his career, and it's not any better this year with a .254/.302/.288 line. Platooning would not be a significant upgrade based on the statistics. However we are again dealing with a small sample size and I would expect Bourgeois stats against lefties to improve. His minor league numbers would indicate as much, and he's got a .269 batting average on plays in play (BABiP) this year. He's due right?

There may be an explanation for his low BABIP. I decided to take a look at Bourgeois batted ball statistics and compared them to Bourn's. It's not pretty. A 1.27 ground ball to fly ball ratio (GB/FB) is not something to write home about, for someone with Bourgeois speed. His line drive percentage (LD%) is pretty similar to Bourn's, both carry about a LD% of 17. Bourn hits the ball on the ground almost 60% of the time, Bourgeois hits the ball on the ground almost 15% less. His fly ball percentage (FB%) is 36% this year , which is 13% higher than Bourn's. The infield fly ball percentage (IFFB%) is no different, Bourn is having a career year with a 1.1%, while Bourgeois has 12.1% IFFB%. He hit's the ball in the air way to much, and would help explain why Bourgeois currently carries a .269 batting average on balls in play (BABiP). A guy with his speed should be above .300, easily.

Overall Bourgeois looks to have a lot of the same qualities as Bourn, but is one step below across the board. Being a part-time player doesn't help us make any definitive determinations about Bourgeois due to sample size. What we can say though is he will be able to fill in adequately defensively. Offensively he's currently lacking the qualification statistically to compliment Bourn as a platoon partner. He needs to put the ball on the ground more and take advantage of his speed. Regardless of his shortcomings he makes for an excellent reserve outfielder, and it would be wise of the Astros to bring him back next year.

......

Jason Bourgeois, Michael Bourn....Jason Bourne. Come on! Obviously the guy that cloned him is a big fan of the Bourne movies. Where's my tin hat?

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