By Eno Sarris //
Sometimes, fantasy managers have to do things that make them feel dirty. They’ll pick up a lousy pitcher who has happened upon the closer role, or grab a streaky player in the middle of a nice stretch. It happens, and it can lead to championships.
That brings us to Emilio Bonifacio and his role on the Florida Marlins this year. With the underwhelming Wes Helms the other option at third base, the speedy infielder has received ample playing time at the hot corner, while also backing up the starting outfielders. He has produced for fantasy owners too, hitting .283 with nine stolen bases in just 166 plate appearances (with three of those steals coming in September). Managers in leagues of any kind could easily get a speed boost from him right now, and they’d be forgiven.
But they’d have to be forgiven nonetheless, because there is a litany of reasons why Bonifacio is not a good long-term option. The most obvious is the fact that he’s not in the team’s long-term plans at any position: last year’s rookie of the year Chris Coghlan is said to be slated for third base next year, and most of the rest of the positions around the diamond are filled with promising young players, like the recently profiled Logan Morrison.
The rest of the reasons might be less obvious but are more damning. For example, Bonifacio doesn’t walk enough for a man with his skill set – his 7.1% career walk rate is below average (usually the league average is around 9%). He also strikes out a tad too much (21.8% career strikeout rate, average is around 20%) for a guy with absolutely no power (.069 ISO, average is usually around .150). In fact, his career strikeout rate would be the worst among batting average qualifiers with ISOs below .100 this year. He’d also be the only player to combine a below-average walk rate with a strikeout rate over 20% and an ISO under .100.
None of this even mentions his unsustainable .352 batting average on balls in play – he is speedy, and might have a higher BABIP than most, but that’s not a number that’s likely to hold. Lastly, Bonifacio rates as a negative defender at all of the infield positions he’s played, which is yet another reason why he probably won’t figure prominently in the Marlins’ plans next year.
Sometimes you have to pick up flawed players on the way to a fantasy title. The important thing is to remember to not drop a player of consequence, and to not keep flawed players from year to year. Even in a deep keeper league, there’s no point in stashing Bonifacio, despite his 30 combined steals in the past two seasons. He is just the kind of player who can give you a few stolen bases in the season’s final weeks, then get discarded in the off-season.