Justin Bour strikes out a quarter of the time. That will probably not change. With 83 career home runs, all with the Miami Marlins, Bour ranks 12th on the all-time list of Marlins power threats.
**Figures compiled in this article are courtesy of baseball-reference.com and baseballsavant.mlb.com.
Nearly three-quarters of the way into this, Bour’s fourth full major league season, he’s putting up a career worst .763 OPS. That’s not a bad figure, but matched up against his 2015 figure of .800, his 2016 mark of .824, and last seasons’ .902, something may be amiss.
As Miami’s only legitimate power threat, Bour is indeed leading the Miami Marlins with 19 home runs and 54 RBI this season. Generally, baseball players don’t break new ground in their performance past the age of 30, which is where Bour finds himself as of three months ago.
As I said before, Bour strikes out. A lot. This season is no exception. With a National League ninth 110 strikeouts in 443 plate appearances, that’s a K rate of 24.8 percent. That’s a sight higher than his career mark entering this season of 21.2 percent. Still, he could mitigate that shortcoming by coming close to matching his pre-2018 slashline of .273/.346/.489. Instead, he’s well below that in every metric aside from OBP, with a .229/.348/.415 slashline entering tonight’s home series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Bour’s OBP has improved due to his improved pitch selection, whiff rate notwithstanding. With 68 walks in his first 111 games this year, he currently ranks seventh in the NL. So he’s now walking 15.3 percent of the time, and THAT number is the only tangible offensive improvement to his pre-2018 figure of 10.0 percent.
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That added patience may be the thing that’s keeping Bour from his free-swinging ways. He’s walking more, striking out more, and with 19 homers in 443 plate appearances, hitting fewer home runs. His 4.3 percent homer rate this season is 14 percent below his pre-2018 number, and the lowest of his career.
Has Bour gotten weaker? Our resident donut expert has a 2018 Statcast average exit velocity of 88.7 MPH. That’s down from his career best 91.6 MPH in 2016 and 1.4 MPH slower than his career average. Conversely, his Barrel % is sticking nearly exactly where it was last season, from 10.8 percent to 10.6. Even though he’s barreling at the same rate, it’s not generating the same power.
Bour’s .269 BABIP this years almost 30 points lower than his career average, and that points to a “luck improvement” in the coming months. Is he going to recover to his .273 career figure? Not a chance, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him approach .250 before the close of the campaign.
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