Bour impresses, but Marlins mulling his role
Defense remains an issue for slugging first baseman
MIAMI -- Justin Bour opened eyes in 2015, and his strong season placed fifth in the National League Rookie of the Year Award voting. The 27-year-old also made a case to hold the inside edge as the Marlins' starting first baseman next season.
The question team officials are asking is if Bour's playing time will be as a regular or on a platoon basis.
"Justin has shown that he's capable of being a productive Major League first baseman," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "Is that full-time? Is that platoon? That's still up in the air."
The Marlins also have expressed to Bour that they want him to shed some pounds coming into Spring Training. He is listed at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, but his weight is higher.
Mobility and defense were concerns, and that was reflected in Bour's advanced defensive numbers. He had an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of minus-5.1, and he had a minus-7 defensive runs saved.
Miami's infield defense was outstanding in 2015, committing an MLB-low 41 errors. Second baseman Dee Gordon won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award last week, and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria was a finalist. Martin Prado's fielding percentage of .976 was best among NL third basemen. The Marlins don't want Bour, who had six errors, to be a liability at first.
Defense aside, Bour provided plenty of excitement after assuming the full-time job when Michael Morse was traded to the Dodgers on July 31. Bour's slash line was .262/.321/.479 with 23 home runs and 73 RBIs, which paced the team.
When Giancarlo Stanton broke his left hamate bone June 26, Bour emerged as Miami's main power threat.
In 2016, the Marlins anticipate a lineup with a healthy Stanton and Bour. They are capable of becoming an imposing middle-of-the-order duo. Foremost, Miami needs Stanton on the field. He appeared in just 74 games, but he still belted 27 home runs and drove in 67.
"I want Stanton first. I want to get him healthy," Hill said. "But the one thing in his absence, a lot of guys stepped up. And Justin was one of those players that stepped up."
The Marlins likely will bring in a right-handed-hitting first-base option to provide depth. Tommy Medica, who last played in the big leagues with the Padres in 2014, is the other primary first-base option on the 40-man roster.
"We're going to discuss all of our options to see how we can improve our roster," Hill said.