FanPost

Martin Prado Batting Behind Michael Bourn: A Statistical Analysis

During a few recent Game Threads, the idea that Martin Prado is struggling while Michael Bourn is on base has been broached a few times. To many, Martin Prado seems like a prototypical second hitter in the Atlanta Braves lineup because he can hit to all fields and is a good hitter with two strikes: his career average in 2 strike counts is roughly 40 points higher than league average. However, there is no question that Martin Prado's offensive numbers have declined from 2011 to the start of 2012 from his previous levels at the start of his career in 2006 to 2010. From 2006-2010, Martin Prado hit .307/.356/.454/.810, quickly becoming a fan favorite of many, myself included. From 2011 to present, he has hit at a .260/.310/.387/.696 clip. Yet in 2011, before Michael Bourn arrived, Prado was batting .280/.321/.423/.744, which includes the 17 games in July after he returned from the staph infection that caused him to miss roughly 6 weeks in June and July (for those that are wondering, Prado's 2011 line before going on the DL was .277/.324/.438/.761). In total, Martin Prado's career line before Bourn arrived was .302/.349/.448/.797. After Bourn's arrival, Prado is hitting .240/.298/.349/.647. Prado has batted 2nd behind Bourn throughout this time, save for random pinch hit appearances, and a 9 game stretch in September of 2011 (Sept. 8-16) where Prado batted 7th and hit .294/.294/.471/.765. This felt like reason enough to look at this more in depth and see why Prado is struggling, and if there was really something to this idea that Martin Prado can't hit when Michael Bourn is on base in front of him.

Using Baseball-Reference's game logs from August 1, 2011 through the first game of the series with Chicago on May 7, 2012, I went back and recorded the scenarios for which Prado came to bat, and broke them down into 4 categories: Prado up with Bourn not on base, Prado up with Bourn on first, Prado up with Bourn on 2nd, and Prado up with Bourn on 3rd. (Going through September of 2011 again was really depressing, for what it's worth) If Bourn was caught stealing while Prado was at bat, I still counted that in the Bourn on 1st category (7 instances of this). However, if Bourn successfully moved up due to stealing a base, wild pitch, errant pickoff throw, etc, I counted those in the Bourn on 2nd or Bourn on 3rd categories depending on the scenario. The breakdown is as follows:

Prado Batting 2nd Since Bourn Arrived

H

AB

PA

BB

TB

SLASH

2011

39

179

192

13

54

.218/.271/.302/.573

2012

28

106

120

12

42

.264/.333/.396/.729

Total

67

285

312

25

96

.235/.295/.337/.632

H= Hits, AB= At Bats, PA= Plate Appearances, BB= Walks, TB= Total Bases

Prado Batting 2nd- Bourn Not On Base

H

AB

PA

BB

TB

SLASH

2011

24

117

127

10

33

.205/.268/.282/.550

2012

19

62

69

7

27

.306/.377/.435/.812

Total

43

179

196

17

60

.240/.306/.335/.641

Prado Batting 2nd- Bourn On Any Base

H

AB

PA

BB

TB

SLASH

2011

15

62

65

3

21

.242/.277/.339/.616

2012

9

44

51

5

15

.205/.275/.341/.616

Total

24

106

116

8

36

.226/.276/.340/.616

Now Broken Down By Base:

Prado Batting 2nd- Bourn on First Base

H

AB

PA

BB

TB

K

DP

RBI

Bourn BI

SLASH

2011

11

41

44

3

17

1

4

6

2

.268/.318/.415/.733

2012

9

37

41

4

15

6

4

11

4

.243/.317/.405/.722

Total

20

78

85

7

32

7

8

17

6

.256/.318/.410/.728

H= Hits, AB= At Bats, PA= Plate Appearances, BB= Walks, TB= Total Bases, K= Times Prado Struck Out, DP= Times Prado hit into a Double Play, RBI= Total of RBI for Prado w Bourn on 1st, Bourn BI= Times Bourn Batted In

Prado Batting 2nd- Bourn on Second Base

H

AB

PA

BB

TB

K

Bourn Scores

RBI

Bourn BI

SLASH

2011

3

18

18

0

3

3

7

2

1

.167/.167/.167/.334

2012

0

6

9

1

0

0

4

1

0

.000/.111/.000/.111

Total

3

24

27

1

3

3

11

3

1

.125/.148/.125/.273

Bourn Scores= Times Bourn eventually comes around to score after being on 2nd when Prado bats

In 2011, Prado came to the plate 8 times with Bourn on 2nd base and no one out. 4 times, Prado advanced Bourn to 3rd base while making an out himself(2011 MLB average for this scenario was 55% advance). Bourn would eventually score on 2 of those 4 instances.

In 2012, Prado has come to the plate 7 times with Bourn on 2nd base and no one out. Prado has advanced Bourn to 3rd base 6 times while making an out himself, including once via a sac bunt. Bourn has scored on 4 of those 6 instances. (The one time Prado has come to the plate and failed to advance Bourn, he drove in Brandon Beachy on a sac fly, and Bourn still eventually came around to score)

Prado Batting 2nd- Bourn on 3rd Base

With Bourn on 3rd base in 2011, Prado was 1/3 with a single that drove in Bourn from 3rd. So far in 2012, Prado is 0/1 with Bourn on 3rd base.

So what does this all mean?

Martin Prado has struggled batting 2nd behind Michael Bourn, this much seems evident. In 2011, Prado actually hit better with Bourn on base than he did when Bourn wasn't on base, though both sets of numbers were not good by any stretch of the imagination. So far in 2012, Prado's numbers when Bourn isn't on base is right in line with his career numbers until the point where Michael Bourn joined the team in August of 2011. With Bourn on base, he has a terrible average this year, but his OBP, Slugging, and OPS have remained pretty much the same with what Prado did with Bourn on base in 2011, which still is not very good.

Martin Prado is also striking out at a higher rate this season with Bourn on first, which makes some sense seeing as how he is trying to give Bourn the opportunity to steal. However, Bourn has only stolen 3 of his 11 bases while Prado has been batting, which seems to support the people that have been saying there is some disconnect between Prado and Bourn when Bourn is on first, at least as far as the running game is concerned. Finally, Prado's numbers when Bourn is on 2nd base are just brutally awful. He has basically sacrificed himself to move Bourn along, espcially with no outs. In fact, Prado has yet to record a hit with Bourn on 2nd and no one out (2011 MLB splits for this scenario are .259/.338/.383/.721). This is troubling because Bourn has only scored 6/15 times in that scenario, and this tactic is dropping our run expectancy for the inning by .21 runs (obviously in late inning situations when we need only 1 run, this is the ideal play).

All these stats suggest that, while Martin Prado may have certain baseball skills that seem ideal for the prototype #2 hitter in a lineup, the Braves are hurting their chances of scoring runs and ultimately winning having Martin Prado bat behind Michael Bourn. For some reason, Prado has struggled at the plate while Bourn is on base, with Bourn being a bigger distraction for our own batter than the opposing pitcher. The Braves would be better served moving Martin Prado down in the lineup, where his sole focus could be on hitting.

This FanPost does not express the views or opinions of Talking Chop.

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