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Justin Bour’s Break Out Party

Miami’s best kept secret is out.

T-Mobile Home Run Derby
Enjoying every second of it.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Expectations were low for Justin Bour heading into the Home Run Derby. Though he’d be hitting in the comfortable, familiar confines of Marlins Park, his home for the past few seasons, not even Marlins fans gave him much of a chance against the prodigious power of Aaron Judge. Bour’s entry into the derby was celebrated in our little corner of the baseball universe, but otherwise largely ignored: Somebody had to be Judge’s stepping stone into the second round, right?

So when Justin Bour stepped to the plate Monday night, maybe (if we’re being generous), he had all of Miami watching. By the end of the performance, he had everyone’s attention. Bour smashed 22 beautiful home runs, pausing in-between to rile up the crowd and have a donut stuffed in his mouth by teammate Giancarlo Stanton.

When he was finally finished, he had the entire crowd and all of his teammates up on their collective feet:

Bour would of course fall to Aaron Judge by a single home run because Judge was created in a lab, but he undoubtedly had the single most memorable performance of the derby. In fact, it can be argued that no one came out of the All-Star festivities looking sweeter (save for perhaps Judge himself).

You see, Bour not only delivered bombs during his turn at the dish, he delivered personality.

There are a couple of consistent complaints relevant to this last point that people are constantly bringing up when it comes to Major League Baseball. One, the impression that they fail to capitalize on their stars via marketing (where are all the Mike Trout commercials?). Two, that baseball needs to be more fun (read: colorful).

When Jose Fernandez passed, the world lost one of it’s brightest baseball stars, and Miami in particular was destined to become a duller place. Nobody replaces the kind of energy that Fernàndez brought to the ballpark, but Bour has done his damnedest in trying.

Marlins fans knew that Bour was fun. Who swapped jersey and pants with Dee Gordon in spring training? Who wears shirts that say things like “Fat guys rake” or “I want abs but I want donuts more”? Who frequently appears in the post-game interview celebrations? Who dances sporadically between plays? Who is constantly trying to rile up the crowd and his teammates?

Marlins fans knew Bour was good. All he’s done since he got here a few years ago is smack bombs, and now he’s added dimensions to his game that didn’t exist before. He’s getting on base at a higher clip. He’s hitting lefties as well as righties. He’s become a very dangerous hitter in a lineup full of dangerous hitters, on pace for a career year in every category imaginable.

After the Home Run Derby, everyone else in baseball now knows about Justin Bour as well. Bour’s future with the Marlins remains in question. If it were my decision to make, the choice would be clear: Keep him, market the heck out of him.

Still, he may yet end up in pinstripes or some other uniform, and that will be a sad day in Miami. But after what we saw on Monday, you’d have to admit that it would be a great thing for baseball.