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2016 Phillies Exit Interview: Peter Bourjos

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He’s no Mike Trout, other than for that month or so last summer

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In the Big Sort that was the Phillies’ 2016 season, Peter Bourjos represented a decent idea that didn’t quite pan out. Familiar to new GM Matt Klentak from their time together in the Angels organization, Bourjos was the team’s biggest free agent signee during the 2015-16 offseason at a modest $2 million.

The logic wasn’t hard to see. At worst, Bourjos brought a good glove to a team that would feature quite a few young pitchers who’d benefit from solid defense behind them. At best, maybe it wasn’t impossible that Bourjos would recapture the form that made him look like a future star as a 24 year old in 2011, when he slashed .271/.327/.438 with 11 homers and 22 steals while playing a strong center field. In the subsequent years, Bourjos was slowed by injuries and then infinitely lapped by the Angels’ next young outfielder, an Eagles fan named Mike Trout. But with a good half-season, Klentak probably could at least flip him to a contender.

Through the first two-plus months of 2016, however, Bourjos looked more like a guy who was about to get cut: as of June 11, his line was .192/.223/.278, with a paltry 10 extra-base hits and five walks in 161 plate appearances. On June 12, he had a single in his only at-bat.

And then he went out of his freaking mind: from then thru July 15, he hit .411/.454/.678 over 99 plate appearances, with seven doubles, four triples and three homers spiced into the mix.

As Bourjos became a hot trade rumor through mid-July, it looked like Klentak’s bet would pay off. Unfortunately, he cooled off sharply as the July 31 deadline got closer, going just 5 for 40 (all singles) in the second half of July before getting hurt in Miami on July 26, missing more than two weeks. After he came off the disabled list, he ceded playing time to Aaron Altherr and Roman Quinn among others, putting up a more characteristic .243/.300/.405 line in 80 plate appearances over the final seven weeks of the season.

Bourjos won’t be back with the Phillies in 2016. At age 30, it’s pretty clear what he is: a guy with a below average outfield bat, decent defense and ok speed. The Phillies have younger, higher-ceiling outfielders who need at bats. Unfortunately, his likely most flippable moment came and went. It happens, and he’ll continue his journeyman’s path through professional baseball. For about five weeks, though, he was a terror.