clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Miami Marlins' Don Mattingly will decide whether to platoon Johnson, Bour

Chris Johnson could be a productive complement to Justin Bour.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Manager Don Mattingly will be the one who decides whether or not to create a platoon situation at first base in 2016, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Jackson adds Marlins executive Michael Hill "would be fine with either."

Bour was expected to serve as the Marlins' starting first baseman this season, but the possibility of a platoon situation was discussed after the Marlins signed veteran infielder Chris Johnson in January.

At just 27, Bour is still a relatively cheap starting option. He played in 129 games last season, batting .262/.321/.479 to complement 23 home runs and 73 RBIs. Beyond Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon, the Marlins' lineup figures to be predominantly left-handed. As a result, having Bour start the majority of the games could prove to be beneficial.

Although Bour provides power from the left side of the plate, he has had difficulty against left-handed pitchers in his career. Last season, Dan Jennings often did not pinch hit for Bour late in games against lefties. Over 68 at-bats against left-handed pitchers in 2015, Bour batted .221 with 22 strikeouts.

Bour's career average against lefties is not better, as he is a career .219 hitter when facing a southpaw.

While Bour has had difficulty hitting lefties in his career, the struggles were not enough to have the Marlins consider another starting option at first base this season. Bour is a career .273 hitter against right-handed pitchers and has proven he can take advantage of the gaps at Marlins Park.

Johnson, 31, struggled last season, batting .255/.286/.337 to complement three home runs and 18 RBIs over 83 games. However, he is a career .314 hitters against left-handed pitchers and could thrive in a platoon role given the number of left-handed starters in the National League East.

If Bour ends up starting every game, the Marlins might not lose much in terms of overall value. Johnson can also pinch hit late in games and could complement Ichiro Suzuki well on the bench.

Mattingly could end up making the decision based on how Johnson and Bour perform this spring. Regardless, Miami should receive production from first base this season.