Miami Marlins Season Review: First Base
By Mark Laming
When the Miami Marlins signed first baseman Mike Morse last offseason, it looked like a move that would address the Marlins gaping hole at first base.
Unfortunately, Morse was a massive bust, as he did not live up to expectations and eventually was dumped to the Los Angeles Dodgers, in a deal with Mat Latos.
The Miami Marlins currently face uncertainty at first base, with Justin Bour as their only option on the current roster. Bour showed flashes of greatness and put together a decent season, but his value seems better served as a specialist to come off the bench.
Bour played in 123 games for the Fish in 2015, hitting 23 home runs. It was a respectable season, but Bour was also one of the best pinch-hitters in baseball. That’s his elite skill, and it should be exploited.
Bour crushed the ball in the month of September and made a convincing case to the Marlins front office for a potential return.
The question turns to if the Marlins will see him more as a bench utility guy, or as an everyday player.
Bour was the only consistent option at first base. With Morse being non-productive while he was in the lineup, and then being sent out of South Florida, Bour held down the spot fairly well for the Marlins ballclub.
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The other two in-house options are 27-year old Tommy Medica, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres, has hit a lackluster .246 in 309 career at bats. The other, super utility man Don Kelly, who is coming off Tommy John Surgery. Neither seems like they will be long-term options, or even return to the Marlins roster in 2016.
On the free agent market, there are a few solid first baseman but, are mostly over the age of 30. Big names include Chris Davis and Edwin Encarnacion. Other lower-level names include Corey Hart, Mike Napoli, and Steve Pearce.
A large price will likely be demanded for the services of either Encarnacion or Davis, making it unlikely that the Marlins will sign either.
A potential hidden gem is Steve Pearce, a staple in Baltimore for the past few seasons, is likely to be had on the cheap.
Just one season ago in 2014, Pearce was a four-win player, who batted a respectable .293, filling in for the embattled Chris Davis. Pearce created 161 runs for the Orioles offense as well during the 2014 season (on FanGraphs WRC+).
2015 was less dynamic for Pearce, injuries and lack of playing time put the brakes on his 2015 season. Pearce appeared in just 93 games and sported a 0.3 WAR, he posted a .218 batting average.
This regression can be attributed more to the comeback of Chris Davis more than Pearce losing a step.
Another viable option is long-tenured first baseman Mike Napoli. The 34 year-old Napoli has seemingly been around forever and is eligible for free agency after this season. Between the Rangers and Red Sox, Napoli appeared in 133 games, where he was an above-replacement player.
Napoli only managed to create 98 runs for both teams this season, but his leadership and long-tenure in the league could be valueable for the Marlins.
Napoli still has a lot to offer and even at 34, he still has some gas left in the tank. A potential platoon with Napoli and Bour at first could be a beneficial situation for the Marlins.
No matter which direction the Marlins decide to go in, first base will be an important need to address this offseason.
Will the Marlins stay with Bour? Or will they go out and sign a new man at first?
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