Before the 2016 season began, the Miami Marlins were reportedly trying hard to find a platoon partner for first baseman Justin Bour. They wanted to find not only someone who could face tough lefties, but also someone who could do well against righties in case Bour did not get off to a good start. Instead, they found Chris Johnson. But Bour has done his best to make his platoon partner nearly insignificant.
Through the All-Star Break, Justin Bour is slashing .268/.347/.526 with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs. While his defense won’t win him a Gold Glove, he has not been close to a liability, in fact he has made several great plays with the glove at first base.
Despite having significantly fewer plate appearances than any of those ahead of him, Bour ranks sixth in the National League in fWAR with 1.5. Every player ahead of him has had over 100 more plate appearances than the Marlins first baseman.
Bour has been impressive at the plate not only because of his power but also because of his patience. In his 242 plate appearances, he has walked 31 times and struck out only 46 times. That’s good for an 11.2 BB% and a 19.0 K% (0.59 BB/K), numbers which are very impressive for a power hitter.
Assuming he recovers from his recent ankle sprain without any setbacks and is able to stay on the field for the remainder of the season, it is quite possible Bour finishes 2016 with 3.0 fWAR. After 0.2 in his rookie season and 0.3 last season, a jump to 3.0 fWAR would make Bour one of the better first basemen in the league that few outside of Miami have ever heard of.
Bour’s career took a while to get rolling. He did not even reach Triple-A until the age of 26 or play his first full season in the big leagues until the age of 27. Despite the late start, Bour has found a way to have a big impact with the Marlins, and will play a big part in keeping their surprising postseason hopes alive.