It looks that your reframings are sort of very closed to the divine proportion (I have not measured but to my eyes it pretty matches)
I'm still with the originals in the sense that the blur background IMO plays an emotional role. But it's completly subjective. Your approach is also "right" (no right-wrong to me) because you tell one story, you isolate what appeared to you to be the subject.
Maybe Russ is right in essence, not cropping avoid to have to make dilemas. You got it, or not. If not, well not loosing time on composition in pp. Before I was pretty much in favor of thinking the pp stage as a sort of "second shooting", now I'm going more and more towards Russ's vision about the cropping in my own works. I avoid them. I must say that it is much more demanding, but...what a peace!
Post-prod is such demanding, in advertising or fine-arts, that having the closest possible results from the shooting (lightning, framing) is an enormous time saver. Because when a crop is involved, there is not one crop but infinite possibilities. And here the brain starts to play tricks.
There seems to be a divide between those who alter their images (and that includes cropping, collage, etc.) and those who don't. Vincent Versace has said he never crops his images. Some of John Paul Caponigro's work on the other hand, one will never see in nature. I swing both ways. Being a film shooter for most of my life, I learned early on to get the image as close as I could in camera. In the early years I didn't have a darkroom, so I was excluded from that secondary part of the processing, although at a couple of different periods I was able to work with a lab guy to get more of what I wanted. With digital there is more control, but also as you say an infinity of options. I agree; there is NO right or wrong way, only preferences. Everyone sees the world differently and always will. What I appreciate about this forum is that we can interchange ideas of how we see things. However, some people like Rob take offense to that. He also gets an opinion and a right to have his work treated as he sees fit, so I've removed my edit of his work out of respect for him.