After 14 seasons in professional baseball and six at the major league level, Justin Bour announced on Friday that “it’s time to hang them up.”
Bour was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2009 out of George Mason University. The “hulking” first baseman, as his Baseball America scouting report described him, fell to the 25th round. He had good production at the plate from rookie ball up through Double-A, but after slumping late in the 2013 season, the Cubs declined to protect him in the Rule 5 Draft. The Miami Marlins selected him in the minor league phase, and that change of scenery proved to be career-changing.
“Thank you for the chance to achieve my dream of being a major leaguer in 2014 and for some of the best years of my life,” Bour wrote about his Marlins tenure.
There comes a time in every players career when they know it’s time to hang them up. Today is that day for me. Thank you baseball and everyone that helped me along the way pic.twitter.com/7xogT7cOec— Justin Bour (@bour41) February 10, 2023
Bour made his major league debut on Jun. 5, 2014, the week after his 26th birthday. Blocked on the depth chart by first baseman Garrett Jones, he was limited to pinch-hitting and the DH spot (back when the DH was only in American League ballparks) during his first cup of coffee. He resurfaced that September in a more significant role and stuck on the active roster for the vast majority of the 2015-2018 campaigns.
Bour slashed .262/.346/.470 (120 wRC+) as a Marlin with the third-highest walk rate in franchise history among players with at least 1,000 plate appearances. Although understandably overshadowed by teammate Giancarlo Stanton, Bour wasn’t far behind in terms of max exit velocity, topping 114 miles per hour at least once in every season he played during the Statcast era. Both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference approximated his overall Miami contributions at 4.7 wins above replacement.
Bour was at the peak of his powers in 2017, flirting with a 1.000 OPS at times. The National League was absolutely loaded with other talented first basemen at the time, so he didn’t crack the All-Star Game roster.
Thanks to the Home Run Derby, however, Bour still made a name for himself during the All-Star festivities. Competing in front of his home crowd at Marlins Park, he launched 22 homers in the first round, munching on doughnuts midway through. It took a herculean performance by rookie phenom Aaron Judge to eliminate him from the contest.
Bour suffered an oblique strain a couple weeks after the derby and he never fully got back to being the player he used to be. His numbers against left-handed pitching cratered in 2018, hampering his trade value for a rebuilding Marlins team that was eager to part with as many veterans as possible. They eventually struck a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in August to flip Bour for pitching prospect McKenzie Mills. Soon after arriving in Philly, Bour strained his oblique again.
Bour’s last MLB action came with the 2019 Los Angeles Angels. From there, he ventured to Japan (2020), South Korea (2021) and Mexico (2022).
JB was extremely friendly with fans, teammates and competitors during his playing career. After completing his degree at George Mason, it would come as no surprise if the 34-year-old eventually found work somewhere in the business of baseball. Fish Stripes wishes Bour and his family all the best in the next chapter of their lives.