Miami Marlins

After ‘so-so’ first half, Justin Bour looking to get back on track

Miami Marlins first baseman Justin Bour rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Park on Wednesday, July 11, 2018.
Miami Marlins first baseman Justin Bour rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Park on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Justin Bour leads the Marlins in home runs, and that’s good.

He also leads them in bases on balls, and that’s good, too.

But Bour is the first to admit that those numbers are deceptive and the season hasn’t been a good one for him, that the Bour who was the beneficiary of a deep lineup that included Giancarlo Stanton and a host of others a season ago has perhaps suffered the greatest of any Marlin without them.

“I would grade it as a little disappointing,” Bour said. “For me, it’s been kind of so-so.”

Bour came out of the All-Star break hitting just .239 (down 50 points), slugging just .418 (down more than 100 points) and averaging only one home run per 25 plate appearances (down from one per every 17).

The drop-offs aren’t all his doing. His protection in the lineup is gone and Bour has been left largely to fend for himself.

“I think it’s different circumstances for him,” said manager Don Mattingly. “You had (Christian) Yelich here last year, (Marcell) Ozuna, Stanton, Dee Gordon. He was sitting back in the order and once you got through those guys, then it’s like deal with J.B. (Now) if you look at our lineup, he’s the one guy that can leave the yard every time he walks up there.”

And every pitcher knows it.

The result: Bour is seeing fewer pitches to hit than he did previously, with pitchers perfectly content in giving him his walks, and especially knowing that he’s station-to-station slow and usually takes at least two more hits for him to score.

“They don’t want to let him beat them, so this is the first time in his career he’s the guy that they don’t want to beat him,” said assistant hitting coach Frank Menechino. “So he’s getting one pitch an at bat to hit, and if you don’t hit it, then it turns into a walk, or maybe chasing trying to do too much. It’s a combination of everything.”

Bour has walked 62 times, fourth-most in the National League.

“It’s something I was prepared for,” Bour said. “It’s definitely a challenge because if you get walked twice in a game, your third at bat, sometimes you go up there a little more aggressive than you should. It’s a daily battle. It’s a mental one.”

Bour said he needs to get better at making on-the-spot adjustments.

“I would like to make adjustments rather than (discovering) something’s going on a couple days after,” he said. “I’d rather make the adjustment in game, in the at bat, realizing what’s happening and what’s being done.”

That’s easier said than done, though.

Menechino called it a “tough situation.”

“It’s a fine line working the at bat for him,” Menechino said. “You’ve got personal at bats and you’ve got team at bats, and this is the first time he’s had to decipher when to do that.”

There’s time for Bour to get it figured out.

Whether he doesn’t it with the Marlins, though, is another story. Bour is among a group of Marlins who could be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline.

“Unless something really happens, I’m not paying any attention to it,” Bour said of trade rumors involving him. “Until that time, if it does ever come, I’ve enjoyed my time in Miami.”

For now, Bour has just one goal in mind.

“I would like to get back on track soon,” he said.

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