Most of us Marlins fans regaled at the news that first baseman Nick Johnson had been acquired, if only to rejoice that the end of the Era of Bonifacio had come to a close. The front office and management of the Marlins had finally realized that Emilio Bonifacio was sapping up plate appearances while being a terrible hitter and below average fielder at third base. With Johnson and his robust .360+ wOBA, we were assured never to see Bonifacio’s face at the top of the lineup again, producing outs as if he were made to do so.
Except that with the Marlins now eight games into the Nick Johnson Era, Bonifacio has still started four of those games! Since Craig of FishStripes jumped on this one first, I’ll let him have the first word:
"Okay, I get the part about Bonifacio being the best one to play short. I mean, given the 25-man roster, the only other person who could do it is Helms and I don’t think anyone wants to see that – even Helms.But this crap about putting him in center against left-handed pitchers is a joke. Oh sure, cherry pick the stats and you might come with a really lame reason. But when you compare Hermida’s and Bonifacio’s OPS stats, they aren’t worlds apart. Hermida’s OPS against lefties is .608. Bonifacio’s is .684. Neither one is head turner, so it seems like to me that the decision should be made on defensive abilities. Sure, Hermida plays a substandard right field, but he is an outfielder by trade. Bonifacio is a second baseman by trade and far from a quality outfielder. And to make matters worse, it displaces the only good defensive outfielder the Marlins have on the 25-man roster, Cody."
He’s 100% correct. One of those starts was an acceptable start, as Hanley Ramirez had suffered the leg contusion the night before and the team kept him out of the lineup. With only Bonifacio able to play shortstop on the team, this was acceptable
But it seems Fredi Gonzalez and the rest of the Marlins management staff have found yet another way to move Bonifacio undeservedly into the lineup. In their infinite wisdom, they’ve decided Bonifacio will now platoon with Jeremy Hermida in the outfield, with Hermida facing righties and Bonifacio lefties. Furthermore, rather than stick Bonfiacio in the easier position of right field, the team has decided to place Bonifacio in center field while shifting Cody Ross, who has more experience and is likely a better center fielder, to right field. Ross has compiled a UZR/150 of -3.8 this season, making him decently below average in center. I don’t know how the team can justify playing Bonifacio there in his place, given that Bonifacio has little experience in the outfield and that he hasn’t proven a good enough infielder to be capable of handling center field.
Now, in this case, there is a potential silver lining. Marlins fans’ favorite supersub utility man, the currently injured Alfredo Amezaga, got his start in the outfield in a similar fashion. Amezaga was forced into the fire in center field for the Marlins in 2006 after not having a whole lot of innings at shortstop to prove himself adequate or not. However, he shined, showing off excellent range and posting a career center field UZR/150 of 19.6 in 1700+ innings. A third of those innings appear to be anomalous, as he had a monstrous 2007 season worth 16.9 runs above average in just 87 games in center, but it goes to show that Amezaga is an example of a converted middle infielder who shined in the outfield as well.
However, defense isn’t the only issue with this ridiculous decision. Offensively, the team has decided to platoon two players, but it isn’t as if the team is platooning players that have extreme splits. Hermida has hit .190/.277/.320 line and a .273 wOBA in approximately 111 PA against lefties. However, from 2006-2008, Hermida collected a .254/.330/.401 line and a .325 wOBA over the course of approximately 342 PA. Taking in this season’s statistics as well, he’s got a career .238/.319/.379 line and a .315 wOBA in 462 PA. In other words, he was league average against lefties going into the season, he hit a recent slump versus lefthanders, and now the Marlins think he can’t hit them better than Bonifacio.
However, Bonifacio has a career line of .265/.287/.335 line and a .278 wOBA against lefties in 179 PA. Even if you take that .303/.328/.361 line that he’s posted this season in 129 PA, you still get a substandard .311 wOBA. All of this basically says that there isn’t any definitive reason to believe that Bonifacio is better against lefties than Hermida is, and if anything it goes to show that Hermida is likely to be a good deal better if anything. It makes me wonder if the Marlins are looking only at batting averages and seeing that gulf between a .190 and a .308 hitter and thinking there’s more of a difference than there actually is where, in all honesty, Bonifacio’s line is the definition of “empty batting average.”
Something is wrong with the Marlins managing staff with regards to Bonifacio. Someone on the team, whether it is Fredi or the whole group has fallen in love and simply can’t break themselves from the relationship, no matter how atrocious it looks to the rest of us on the outside. Fredi’s like a girlfriend dealing with a terrible good-for-nothing guy who she thinks just needs a little time to “grow into himself” and a little tinkering with her magic touch. Little does she know that every evening she sticks around with this guy, he’s taking in all the benefit and she’s receiving nothing in return. Keep trying to make him better, Fredi. I’m pretty sure he won’t ever be presentable to your friends.