Emilio Bonifacio has long been regarded as solely a one-trick pony, capable of stealing a great number of bases but incapable of doing much at the plate.
And before 2011, such a label was just. Bonifacio had never posted a batting average north of .261 or an on-base percentage above .320 in a single season.
But in 2011, Bonifacio experienced tremendous success at the plate, showcasing the ability to take walks and hit for a high average. In 157 games, "Bono" posted a very respectable .094 BB/PA, a .296 average and .360 OBP.
Bonifacio's ability to get on base in 2011 was absolutely crucial to him reaching 40 steals. And it wasn't a fluke either, as he's shown great improvement with plate discipline recently.
After a 2009 campaign in which he posted a .068 BB/PA, Bonifacio reached .085 BB/PA in 2011. Further, Bonifacio has increased his BB/K (.46 in 2011) in every season of his MLB career.
Also, Bonifacio has started out 2012 on a high note as well. Through 39 games, he's batting .268, has an OBP of .351 and a .107 BB/PA. On top of that, Bonifacio has been extremely effective in what is still his best asset: base-stealing ability. Thus far, he's swiped 20 bags and only been caught once. To put that in perspective, the highest SB total for any other major leaguer is 13.
With that speed and his new-found ability to get on base consistently, Bonifacio is one of the most valuable top-of-the-lineup hitters in the game today, and needs to be regarded as such.