|What to make of Emilio Bonifacio|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on April 17, 2009
Emilio Bonifacio drew attention from fantasy owners with his 4-for-4 opening day performance with the Florida Marlins. (AtHomePlate's Tony Meale offered his fantasy advice on Bonifacio here.)
Through the season's first nine games, Bonifacio is hitting .386/.400/.523 with four stolen bases. Please pardon the drool from fantasy owners.
But is Bonifacio's torrid start going to continue? Chico Harlan of the Washington Post:
Now Bonifacio. Sure, he tore up the Nats in the opening series this year. He looked like a video game version of Lou Brock. But those I talked to about Bonifacio were unimpressed, and felt certain he'd regress -- quickly -- into the light-hitting player Washington saw in 2008. There is no doubt that, during spurts, Bonifacio can take over a game with speed like few others. Remember that week from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 last year? Bonifacio came in, batted .375, slugged .594. He had five multi-hit games in a span of six.
But after that? Bonifacio's average fell like a barrel going over Niagara. Very quickly, the league saw his weakness. As a right-hander, he steps away from the plate -- "into the bucket," as they say -- making him susceptible to outside pitches. Give him something down the middle or inside, and Bonifacio can handle it. But place the ball away, and he's limited.
This year, those who've seen Bonifacio notice the same major flaw. He has not improved. Bonifacio's tear against the Nats was enabled by Washington's pitchers, who knew the scouting report, but missed time and time again when trying to locate pitches. They came inside, and Bonifacio, as a right-hander, made them pay.
Bonifacio had multi-hit games in each of the first five games this year. Since, he's gone 3-for-20. That's not to discount him as a weapon -- any time he reaches base, he dictates every moment -- but just remember this: The player Washington traded away is still pretty much the same player, according to scouts.
Bonifacio appears to have an enormous spot for pitchers to exploit. And once they start doing that, Bonifacio will have to adjust. Can he? If he could, why wouldn't he have already done so?
Something interesting of note: Bonifacio's strikeout-to-walk ratio is 11-to-1 on the young season. We, of course, cannot base too much on nine games' worth of statistics. Bonifacio's minor league strikeout-to-walk ratio is about 2.5-to-1. While this isn't the end-all, be-all statistic, players who strike out much more often than they walk usually have a lower batting average. Because he doesn't draw many walks, how is Bonifacio going to be on base enough to rack up steals?
Put me in the same boat as Chico. Bonifacio will be returning to earth any day now. Fantasy owners: enjoy it while you can.