In this new series here at CST, we will be individually previewing each projected starting player on the 2015 Cleveland Indians’ team, culminating with a full season preview in mid-March. First up: leadoff man Michael Bourn.

 

The Past

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Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

 

2014 Stats: .257 BA, .314 OBP, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 17 2B, 10 3B, 57 R

Bourn had a season to forget in 2014. He was constantly plagued by hamstring troubles, and his production on the field reflected it. A man who once averaged 51 steals per year over 5 seasons put up just 10 in 2014.

Bourn’s performance at the plate was not much better; his .257 batting average coupled with a .314 OBP mark simply didn’t cut it for a leadoff hitter. Not that he has ever been a monster run-producer by any stretch, but 28 RBI is also career-low.

Maybe the one bright spot of Bourn’s season was his league-leading 10 triples, showing us that his still has some of the burst that got him paid a couple seasons ago.

 

The Present

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On a much more reassuring note, Bourn has been hard at work, determined to improve upon on a disappointing 2014 campaign. The 32-year-old has been working with former Olympic track star Leroy Burrell this winter at the University of Houston in hopes to build his speed back up.

Bourn’s game is built largely around his quickness, so a healthy start to the 2015 season is essential. When he is being nagged by hamstring injuries, it takes a significant toll on his range in center field, his ability to squeak out bunts and infield hits, and, of course, his ability to steal bases.

The hamstring injuries that nagged him for much of 2014 are non-existent at this point in time (knock on wood).

Bourn is 2-for-7 with a run scored so far this spring.

The Future

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Unsurprisingly, a lot of what Michael Bourn does in 2015 depends on his health status.

When healthy, Bourn is a high-.200’s hitter that is a legitimate threat on the basepaths. When injured, he is a subpar, aging center fielder.

One guarantee about the upcoming season is that Bourn will be given a great opportunity to experience success.

I guess that’s what happens when the club owes you $13.5 million.

You can pencil in the 32-year-old at the top of that Opening Day lineup card, and you might as well prepare to watch him in center field as well. Terry Francona still has  a great amount of trust in this guy, no matter his injury-plagued past.

Of course, what Bourn does with that opportunity is a much more important question. Realistically, there are many different versions of Michael Bourn that we could see in 2015. He could play 140+ games (which he did each year from 2009-2012) and rediscover some past greatness. At the same time, he could go down with another hamstring injury and have to power through another grueling season battered by health issues.

Do I think he turns back the clock a few years and steals 35 bases? No.

Do I think that he will hit .300 in the leadoff spot? Nope.

But, will he be better than his 2014 showing? For sure.

2014 was his worst season in 6 years in nearly every statistical category. That could mean an obvious sign of age deterioration, but there were still those flashes of the dynamic leadoff man that earned a 4 year/$48 million contract in 2013.

Here is what you can expect from center fielder and leadoff man Michael Bourn in the upcoming campaign:

.268 BA, .330 OBP, 5 HR, 52 RBI, 26 2B, 7 3B, 22 SB.

That is an increase in each stat category across the board, minus a decline in triples. Sure, these aren’t exactly numbers worthy of a contract the size of Bourn’s, but it is definitely an improvement.

Simply put, he is a better player than what 2014 showed, and even at the veteran age of 32, Michael Bourn should prove that to us in 2015.

 

 

On deck: Jose Ramirez

 

By Jay Cannon

 

Featured image credit to: www.recordpub.com

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