Bourn fills Braves' needs perfectly 

July, 31, 2011
The Atlanta Braves have acquired center fielder and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn from the Houston Astros in exchange for outfielder Jordan Schafer, left-handed pitcher Brett Oberholtzer and right-handers Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu.

Bourn, 28, was hitting .303/.363/.403 with 64 runs scored, 26 doubles, seven triples and a league-leading 39 stolen bases in 46 attempts. A former All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner, Bourn is an elite center fielder whose ability to get to balls in the gaps and behind him is rare among outfielders. Even the defensive metrics show he is one of the league's top two defensive center fielders. Plus, his success rate on stealing bases throughout his career is an impressive 83 percent.

Bourn changes the entire dimension of the Braves' lineup. Finally, the Braves have a leadoff hitter who can disrupt a pitching staff on the bases, particularly in close games in the late innings. Bourn's acquisition will move Martin Prado to the two-hole where he belongs and give the Braves much-improved on-base percentages in the top two spots. Having Bourn and Prado together will create more fastballs for the middle of their lineup, consisting of Brian McCann (when he's back from the DL), Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward. The only downside is that the Braves' lineup becomes too left-handed. The deal, however, will be significant come playoff time because speed at the top of the order can make a huge difference in a game's outcome when the Braves are facing the league's best pitchers in 2-1 or 3-2 battles.