Everyone’s talking about it, so we might as well address it: Emilio Bonifacio is the greatest player in the history of baseball. The Nats, as you recall, used to own the rights to Bonifacio, acquired from the Diamondbacks for Jon Rauch. They could have used him any way they saw fit. What they chose to do with this latter-day Honus Wagner was trade him for pennies on the dollar, using him as one of the key pieces for getting Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen. And what did the former National do when he finally had a chance to take it to his old team? He demolished them, going 4 for 5 with 4 R, 3 SB and an inside the park HR. What regrets we must have that he is no longer on the team!
In fact, this game was likely one of the best Bonifacio will ever have. He is not much of a hitter, and while he is fast, he isn’t even a very successful base stealer. PECOTA has him projected to hit .250/.304/.341 this season, bad for any major leaguer, embarrassing for a corner infielder. But those are just projections. How did he do in spring training this season? Better, hitting .279/.326/.395. These numbers aren’t exactly great either, and as a leadoff man this low OBP can really hamstring a club. His career splits in the minors, .285/.341/.361, are a bit better, but still not good. He shows no signs that he’ll ever hit above .300 in his career, and he shows very little patience. I wonder, too, how many of those hits in the minors are infield ones that he beat out against fielders who don’t compare to those in the majors. In terms of those splits, I tend to agree with PECOTA most of all, he’ll hit an empty .250, if he’s lucky, maybe .265.
At least he can steal bases, right? I mean, the Nats lost something there, right? Chico Harlan called him “a dazzling base runner”. Except he’s not, he’s just fast. One of the reasons he can steal so much is that he tries alot. His career success rate was only 75% in the minors, which is not very good. Bases are relatively easy to swipe in the minor leagues – blame it on the pitchers being told to concentrate on the hitters, the catchers being not as good, whatever the reasons, the numbers are clear. That success rate just isn’t very good. In the majors, before last night, he stole 7 bases and was caught 5 times. No, nothing shows that he’ll be very successful at that, either.
Don’t get too hung up on how good he did in the first game. He most likely isn’t the future for any team, and the Nats got some much better players in exchange for him. I’m willing to bet in a few weeks his numbers will look much more like those predictions that that of a Hall of Famer. And don’t start worrying about the Nats, or John Lannan for that matter. It’s only 1 game. Baseball is about much more than that – otherwise CC Sabathia and Manny Ramriez would be terrible, the Diamondbacks would be the best power hitting team in the league, and Adam Dunn would hit a HR in every game (and we know it’s every 4 games).