Toronto Blue Jays: Why Emilio Bonifacio Should Hit Second in the Order in 2013
Heading into spring this season, questions are abound as to who will win the starter's job at second base for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Well, if both Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis play as well as they can, the job would undoubtedly go to Bonifacio, who provides much more on a day-to-day basis to the team. He's faster, he's better at getting on base and he's younger.
Assuming he were to win the starter's job, the conversation shifts to whether he should hit second in Toronto's batting order or occupy the ninth spot in the lineup.
Many believe that he'd be a better fit in the nine-hole, with the recently signed Melky Cabrera being a better fit for the second slot.
I don't think that's the case though.
Sure, Melky had a big season last year, but his results have been called into question since he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a banned substance.
In fact, other than last season when his OBP was .390, Cabrera hadn't posted a better OBP than Bonifacio since 2009.
In terms of speed, no one will dispute that Bonifacio can out-run Cabrera. In just 64 games last season, Bonifacio actually racked up 30 stolen bases in just 33 attempts.
Cabrera on the other hand, hasn't even averaged 13 stolen bases per season over the last four years.
So, when it comes to setting the table for the big bats and being a distraction while standing on first base, the case can be made easily that Bonifacio is better suited to do that job.
Having Cabrera hit sixth would be more beneficial for him personally, as well as the team.
Should Emilio Bonifacio hit second for the Toronto Blue Jays this season?
Bumping him down in the order would alleviate some of the pressure he will surely face thanks to last year's steroid scandal (which has popped up again it would seem).
Having a potential .300 hitter hitting sixth would also be great for Toronto considering that he'll be coming up after the power hitters. This can start a new rally if the Blue Jays clear the bases with a long-bomb or knock in the runs they failed to bring home if they come up short.
The other thing to consider is that other than 2012, which was shortened by an injury, Bonifacio has been steadily improving each year.
His batting average improved each season from 2009 to 2011, as did his on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Bonifacio's stolen base percentage is consistently high, and his lack of power means he's ill suited to knock in runs. Cabrera has a little more pop and consistently knocks in a good number of runs, meaning Bonifacio is better off being the two-hitter.
All things considered, Emilio Bonifacio is the Jays' best option to hit second in the order.
It would be unwise to underestimate the kind of player Toronto has in Bonifacio.
Already having had a season with a .360 on-base percentage under his belt while still a few years shy of turning 30, Bonifacio has an incredible amount of promise and could be one of the most underrated table-setters in baseball.
Hopefully John Gibbons and his coaching staff see that this spring and elect to run with him as the team's two-hole hitter.
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