Miami Marlins 2012 Season Preview: Center Field

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Been a busy past few weeks with school and work. Sorry for my lack of activity. Luckily with some of the new writers on Marlin Maniac, we have had fresh content every day. We will continue today with the 2012 Miami Marlins season preview. Today we will explore the center field position.

Before we get started, here is a look back at the Miami Marlins 2012 season previews that we have done so far:

The Marlins are essentially set at every position. A position that has some major question marks for the Marlins in 2012 is going to be a position that had a void last season as well, center field. Since the Marlins trade away Cody Ross for nothing, the Marlins have been running a black hole in center field.

Here is a look at the depth chart:

  1. Emilio Bonifacio
  2. Bryan Petersen
  3. Chris Coghlan
  4. Scott Cousins
  5. Aaron Rowand

Like I said in my Spring Training competition update article, the Marlins are more then likely going to carry 5 outfielders. That leaves two spots open. Aaron Rowand’s spring has in all likelihood eliminated himself.

The Marlins have already tabbed Bonifacio as their starting center fielder for the 2012 season. Bonifacio showed some great improvement in 2012 and is expected to be the number two hitter in the Marlins lineup.

Bonifacio last season had his walk rate climb to 9.2 percent. Bonifacio was able to do this by simply swinging at at fewer pitches out of the zone and thus he ran into more walks. The improved walk rate and plate discipline is something we should not expect for Bonifacio to lose in 2012 and beyond.

On the other hand, Bonifacio had an incredibly high BABIP. Here is a look at what Michael Jong of Fishstripes had to say about Boni’s BABIP:

"From 2008-2010, among players with at least 1000 PA, the following are the top 5 BABIP:1. Shin-Soo Choo: .3602. Ichiro Suzuki: .3563. Carlos Gonzalez: .3554. Joe Mauer: .3545. Manny Ramirez: .353These were the very best for three seasons and over 1000 PA, and none maintained the .370 mark that Bonifacio did. And Bonifacio only hit that well on balls in play in one season (640 PA). The money is on him dropping down closer to his career .340 mark (a mark only 15 players in 2008-2010 reached) than staying up there."

Interesting stat right there by Michael. Bonifacio is clearly not the same level as a hitter as any of those above mentioned names. Bonifacio’s career BABIP is .340 and he posted a .370 BABIP last season. If he were to regress to his career norms, his batting average and on base percentage would also go down as a result. This would cause Bonifacio to regress to worse numbers then posted in 2011. Of course, his numbers are highly unlikely to regress back towards what he posted in 2009 and 2010.

So there needs to be some credit given to Bonifacio on his plate improvement. Bonifacio also will provide the Marlins with some great speed on the base paths. Bonifacio stole 40 bases last season and with a manager like Ozzie Guillen, he is likely to have many stolen base opportunities.

As for Bonifacio’s defense in center, I think he can be a strong defensively out there. I would not ever confuse him with Andruw Jones and his defense, but he could play a decent center field.

Here is a look at some projections for Bonifacio:

ProjectionPAAVGOBPSLGwOBAWARSB
Bill James487.276.338.354.3121.727
Roto Champ630.282.351.374.3312.841
Fans623.275.339.355.3182.435

The projections are right in line with what I said above. All three projection systems have Bonifacio posting similar walk rates and a similar plate discipline, but the projections also have him regressing big time when it comes to BABIP.

Now we will take a look at my projections for Bonifacio in 2012:

ProjectionPAAVGOBPSLGwOBAWARSB
702.271.341.331.3111.836

I am a lot more optimistic that Bonifacio will play a lot longer then the other projections as he has never actually been an injury prone player. I also like Bonifacio’s chances of stealing more then 40 bases in the near future. Every time this man is on base, he is a major threat to swipe a bag.

With all the other stats, I am right in line with the projections. If Bonifacio can sustain his growth in plate discipline, the Marlins should not expect his bat to be the black hole that it once was when he was a starter in 2009. His defense in center should also be a lot better then it was at third. Overall, the Marlins have a very solid player in center, but if they have a chance to improve this position at the trade deadline, I would not complain one bit, actually, I would quite prefer it!

Backups:

At this point, it seems like the Marlins are going to carry one of Chris Coghlan, Scott Cousins, and Bryan Petersen. All have experience in center, though all three are better suited to be corner outfielders. Of these three, I would suspect that Petersen’s success last season in the majors, and the fact he is the best fielder of the three, I suspect he will make the team as the fourth outfielder and backup Bonifacio.

Aaron Rowand is also in contention for a backup role. He at this point seems to be a long shot to make the team, as Austin Kearns has outplayed him this spring. It will be interesting to see how the outfield situation plays itself out over these last few weeks of spring training.

Tune in tomorrow for more 2012 Miami Marlins season previews. Tomorrow, we will look at the great, the amazing, the wonderful, the all-powerful, Giancarlo Stanton.

Also, we have a new commenting setup. The past setup was difficult sometimes to comment on. We hope with this change you guys can give us some good feedback! It would be greatly appreciated.

Lastly, check out newest version of the WAR calculator 2.0 and the Simple WAR calculator 1.1 on Wahoo’s on First. It is a great way to calculate WAR with the simplest of stats. Be sure to check that out today!

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