Florida's Emilio Bonifacio is batting .386. He leads the National League with 12 runs and 17 hits and four (four!) steals in nine games. How could the woeful Nationals possibly have traded him? Not so fast, writes Chico Harlan:
- 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.
I love it when the scouts agree with the crushing weight of the statistical evidence. Makes me feel all warm inside. (H/T: Baseball Musings)