Justin Bour emerging as consistent threat for Marlins

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Marlins first baseman Justin Bour is enjoying what could be a breakout season. Barring injury, he’s on track to have his most productive season yet.

Over the previous four seasons, Justin Bour has either platooned at first base, or been left to fluctuate against left-handed pitching. This season he has been given the opportunity to handle duties at first base full-time, and it’s paying dividens for the Miami Marlins.

After a slow start offensively, Bour has come on strong as of late and is seeing a statistical increase across the board. With improved performance against left-handed pitching as well, he is justifying the Marlins decision to play him regardless of who is on the mound.

More consistent power

With a single glance, you can see that there is power in Justin Bour’s body. Standing an imposing 6 foot 3 inches and weighing in a 265 pounds, Bour is an imposing figure in the batters box; even his swing-and-miss strike outs are impressive.

At the onset of his career he struggled to use that power in a way that produced consistent results offensively. This year, that appears to be changing. Bour has homered in four of his previous five games, and has increased his season tally to eight. His moonshots are becoming a regular feature on ESPN highlight reels at the end of each night.

Only 28 years old, Bour is starting to peak at the right time for the Marlins. Now in his fourth year in the league, he is likely to amass the highest at-bat totals of his career. His production doesn’t appear to be dropping off with the larger sample size, either. He is slashing .256/.347/.488 this season, and is in the middle of his hottest streak of the season.

If Bour’s power totals continue to trend in this direction, he forms a formidable middle of the order for the Fish. With Stanton and Ozuna from the right side, and Bour and Yelich on the left, offensive production should be rampant.

Improving his splits

Bour’s woes against left-handed pitching made the Marlins uneasy in the past. His struggles have led to a number of right-handed bats to platoon with Bour over the last four years. This year, the Marlins decided to take the training wheels off. Bour has been having more productive at-bats against lefties than ever before.

In fact, this season right-handers have given Bour more trouble than the southpaws have. His splits prove that Bour is hitting for a higher average, slugging at a higher percentage, and getting on base more against lefties. That’s an encouraging sign for the Marlins future at first-base.

If these improvements prove to be more than just a fluke, the Marlins have one fewer issue to address in the short-term. Bour isn’t eligible for arbitration until 2018, and isn’t eligible to explore free agency until the 2021 season.

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Just Bour has been red hot for the Miami Marlins this season. He’s been one of the few pleasant surprises for the team. In a year that hasn’t given Fish fans much to be optimistic about, Bour’s emergence as a consistent, legitimate power threat is certainly encouraging.