“That’s Amore!” Will Justin Bour Represent the National League All-Star Team?
Tied for the MLB lead in home runs, Justin Bour has proven himself worthy of an NL All-Star spot. With all of the worthy players, it would be a complete travesty for a player to potentially lead MLB in home runs and not earn and All-Star nod. Early into the season, Bour has compiled a slash line of .295/.369/.589. His .959 sees him 10th in MLB to go along with a league-leading 16 HR and 40 RBI (tied-9th in MLB). The power potential has always been there, but the inability to stay healthy has always seen Bour fall short of a full season of 500+ at-bats. Assuming he stays healthy, he’s on pace to shatter his career-high of 23 HR and 73 RBI. For a Marlins team that lacks pitching, Bour has been able to produce with the likes of Giancarlo Stanton and Marcel Ozuna to score runs for a mediocre pitching staff. This week, I want to focus on what’s made Bour successful, and why he needs to be on the NL All-Star team in “That’s Amore!” Will Justin Bour Represent the National League All-Star team?
There’s no question the early All-Star votes are going to perennial All-Star Paul Goldschmidt, Washington National Daniel Murphy, and the Coors Crusher Mark Reynolds. Unlikely to carry all four players, the final decision will come down to Mark Reynolds and Justin Bour. Bour currently sits tied for seventh with a 47.2 Hard%. 4.8% shy of league-leading Miguel Sano, the Marlins first baseman has flexed his muscles early into the season. A pull hitter he’s compiled an astonishing 33.3% HR/FB. Only Aaron Judge has a higher percentage at 39.1%. There’s no question, Bour is looking to drive the ball with every swing of the bat. Looking at his splits, he’s been solid against righties slashing .280/.355/.540. One might thing the product make trend downward against southpaws, but that’s not the case as Bour’s been better against lefties slashing .350/.422/.775, producing a 1.197 OPS which is good enough for tenth in MLB for players with at least 30 at-bats against lefties. He’s been producing against pitchers regardless of throwing hand.
As with most power hitters, Bour is no stranger to the strikeout (49 total, 50th in MLB). Although he’s having a career-season, his strikeout percentage is at an all-time high of 22.9% which is 1.8% higher than his career-average of 21.1% and 0.3% higher than that of his 2015 season. A 22.9 K% can be concerning if it starts to increase as the season progresses, but I would say it’s safe to agree that these strikeouts can be accepted if he keeps a slash line similar to his current line. What else can be seen with Bour’s breakout season? Focusing on his plate discipline, the slugger has been able to hover around his career Z-Contact% of 83.1% with a 82.6% which is the second-highest of his career. He’s been solid against pitches inside the zone, and while there are other batters with a higher Z-Contact% Bour’s been able to improve in one major area: O-Swing%. Through the first week of June, Bour has been able to decrease his O-Swing% from a career-average mark of 32.2% to 30.7% in 2017. While the statistics aren’t greatly different, his patience has been noticeable as his walk percentage (10.3%) is nearly a percent higher than his career-average.
It’s possible that Bour wasn’t your top first baseman rostered on your fantasy team. It’s even more possible he was a late-round flier, or an acquisition off the waiver wire. What does that mean for your fantasy team? After the likes of Ryan Zimmerman and Yonder Alonso, Bour is the perfect sell-high candidate. I’m not suggesting Bour can’t keep up his torrid start, but if history proves anything it’s that the Marlins first baseman has been no stranger to the injury bug, and at 29, he’s not one of the younger players in the league. With own percentages of 67.5% ESPN, 74% Yahoo, and 88% Fantrax there’s a slight chance the top-10 hitter in home runs and runs batted in is still available. More than likely, your a month and change short. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t be acquired. Personally, I see Bour as a sell-high candidate. I’m positive I’m not alone, but I’ve been battered and bruised by pitching. I have leagues that see the DL spots gobbled up by the likes of Noah Syndergaard, David Price before last week, and Madison Bumgarner. With pitching being as thin as it is, there’s no reason a Bour owner can’t flip his hot start for a solid arm. Jake Arrieta and Johnny Cueto are perfect examples of struggling starters that could be hand. While I can’t see Arrieta and Cueto struggling all season, now is the perfect time to acquire either. Bour could be that perfect piece to make a one-for-one deal. On the opposite side, if you are an owner with a surplus of arms , and looking for a power-bat, Bour could be a piece you could acquire for a struggling arm or a position player that hasn’t yet reached his potential. Either way, Bour has become a solid sell-high candidate, and a player that can be acquired for a reasonable price due to his injury concerns and the fact he’s never amassed more than 410 at-bats in a season.
Early into the 2017 season, Justin Bour has become one of a handful, of players that have been drafted in the later-rounds, or acquired off the free agent list, that has had one of the hottest starts in baseball. With the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Daniel Murphy, and Mark Reynolds vying for an NL All-Star spot, it’s going to be tough for Bour to leap any of the players. There’s just over a month until the July 7 game, which means there’s more than enough time for other players such as: Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto, Wil Myers, and Eric Thames to gain ground on Bour, as well as the other National League first basemen. Personally, I think Bour continues to produce through June, and ends up as an NL All-Star reserve. As a matter of fact, this year’s ASG is in Miami! Wouldn’t it be a travesty to leave the home ballpark’s first baseman, and potential MLB home run leader, off the National League roster?
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