Going from Morrison to Bonifacio


As we all know, Logan Morrison apears to be out two to four weeks after spraining an unspecified ligament in his left foot. At least the guy was a sport about it:

"“I diagnosed with a lisfranc sprain. So I have a girl tendon sprain,” Morrison said, using crutches because he has a hard cast on his left leg that starts just below his knee and covers most of his foot.Morrison went on to describe some other problems created when he left the batter’s box after hitting a ground ball in his first at-bat Tuesday night and will keep him out of the lineup from two to four weeks.“I have a sprain on the side, on the inside part of it. They call that a variable tendon, so I am guessing they don’t have a name for that, they haven’t quite gotten there in anatomy,” Morrison quipped."

He also went ahead and drew pinstripes on his cast:

But outside of those funny things, this will not bode well for the Fish. For now, the Marlins will turn to Emilio Bonifacio and Scott Cousins to replace the fallen Morrison in the lineup. However, while that sounds like a decent plan for them, you and I both know that they aren’t going to go with a platoon like they should. Instead, you can expect Bonifacio to get about 80 percent of the plate appearances because of the Marlins’ unhealthy obsession with him.

Now others have pointed out how this may be a bad thing for the Fish. But I’m not here to harp (once again) on the harbinger of doom that is Bonifacio. I want to stay objective and as far away from my hatred of his 2009 disaster as possible. We need to know how much of a drop we can expect going from a potential All-Star in LoMo from a potential Replacement Level All-Star in Boni. Let’s consult ZiPS in-season projections to find out.

Offensive black hole

Everyone who reads this space regularly knows that Bonifacio is essentially a black hole at the plate. For his career, he is a .259/.309/.320 hitter. Since 2009, only nine hitters with at least 750 PA have hit worse than Bonifacio’s .289 wOBA; among those players, three of them were catchers (two of whom are supposedly defensive assets behind the plate), two others were shortstops who were among the better defenders in baseball, and the remaining others were middle infielders who were just awful.

ZiPS reflects the type of bad we might expect to see from Bonifacio. In his remaining playing time, ZiPS projects a .265/.317/.336 slash line, good for a .299 wOBA including Boni’s stolen base capabilities. Compare that to Morrison, who is coming off a pretty impressive open to the 2011 season that could be a harbinger of good things in the future. Morrison is projected for a .287/.375/.464 slash line that looks awfully familiar to his 2010 line. Such a batting line would be worth a .366 wOBA.

What is the difference between a .367 wOBA and a .299 wOBA? Before we get into the exact numbers, consider the differences between these pairs of players over the last three seasons:

Clint Barmes (.241/.299/.403, .300 wOBA) vs. Rickie Weeks (.270/.359/.473, .365 wOBA)
Kevin Kouzmanoff (.248/.288/.403, .300 wOBA) vs. Dan Uggla (.261/.354/.479, .362 wOBA)

Think about the difference between those players before you consider that we will only be missing Morrison for what is likely one month. If he is out 28 games (the approximate number of games between now and then), we’d be missing out on at most 123 PA. The difference between a .299 wOBA and a .366 wOBA in 123 PA adds up to almost seven runs.


There is a defensive component, but clearly that aspect of the game seems a bit more difficult to numerically demonstrate. Prior to the season starting, I projected Morrison as a true talent -7 run defender in a full season’s worth of play, and his UZR numbers so far for his career as a whole generally agree with my sentiment, which is convenient. As for Bonifacio, we clearly don’t know all that much about his corner outfield defense. The numbers in the limited sample so far say that he’s pretty good, but he likely isn’t close to a true talent +18 run defender in the outfield.

Let’s give Bonifacio the absolute best-case scenario. If Boni is a true talent +10 run defender in left field, meaning that he is among the best defensive left fielders in baseball (think a shade better than Juan Pierre), he would be just about three runs better than Morrison over the injury timespan. And that’s the best case scenario. If Boni was nothing better than average, he’d only have an advantage of about one run in that same timespan. So that’s the likely range of runs gained on defense, between one to three.


It seems like we would expect to lose anywhere between four to six runs in the next month or so going from Logan Morrison to Emilio Bonifacio. In terms of wins, that is about half a win. Now, that does not sound like much, but half a win is worth around $2M in the free agent market, meaning the Fish essentially tossed $2M down the drain. To a baseball team possibly in contention, neither half a win nor that money value is considered chump change, and even though it doesn’t sound like a lot, it could very well be the half win that aided the team’s playoff chase.