Bourn's value remains high with Braves

Updated: July 31, 2011, 1:40 PM ET
By Eric Karabell

The Philadelphia Phillies had made their outfield move, acquiring Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros a few days earlier, so now it was time for the team chasing them to act. The Atlanta Braves went to the same place to find speedster Michael Bourn, dealing outfielder Jordan Schafer and three prospects, and it's a move that should certainly aid the team's underachieving offense.

Bourn, a former Phillie incidentally, is a terrific center fielder and currently the league's top base stealer. He has 39 stolen bases -- seven more than anyone else in baseball. Bourn was the No. 99 player chosen in ESPN live drafts, but he's far outperformed that 10th-round rank, as he's No. 14 among all players -- seventh in the outfield -- on the ESPN Player Rater. Part of that is because Bourn is such a prolific base stealer, but the .303 batting average and pace for 97 runs are nice as well. And now he's on his way to a team with better hitters in the middle of the lineup.

Having a good OBP presence at the top of the lineup is better for other Braves, as Bourn will get on base at a significantly better clip than Schafer was. In fact, Braves leadoff hitters were scoring runs (14th in baseball for the leadoff spot), but with a .309 OBP (25th), they needed more. It should help the future RBI totals of Martin Prado, Chipper Jones, Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla and Brian McCann, but those guys are mostly owned already. Only Jones is readily available in ESPN standard leagues. And while Schafer was handling center field better than Nate McLouth, Bourn is an upgrade defensively, which shouldn't hurt a hittable pitcher like Derek Lowe. But it doesn't make me want to add Lowe.