Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Izturis-Bonifacio Conundrum

Gregor Chisolm had some tidbits from an Alex Anthopoulos media scrum yesterday (he also notes that Beeston will have a similar scrum today).  It's fairly lengthy, but it's a good read.  MLBTR has a roundup of the important stuff summarized.

I think the major thing to take from the chat, or at least what I'm writing about, is the fact that AA says Maicer Izturis has the inside track on the starting 2B role, with Emilio Bonifacio playing more of a super utility role.

Q- How does second base shape up?
“I think Izturis is the front runner. He hasn’t been promised the everyday job so there’s definitely potential to compete there. Izturis would certainly be the front runner for that spot. Bonifacio’s value is that he can play second, can play all the outfield spots, can play the other infield spots as well. But as we sit here today — and it can change at spring training — Izturis would be the front runner but he hasn’t been guaranteed the everyday job.”
 I'm fairly certain that this is what I've been trying to tell everybody ever since the trade happened.  We may as well have a look at both, and try and hash out why I feel this way.

Izturis, 31, is four years older than Boni.  That's really more of an FYI than anything, and doesn't preclude Boni from getting the starter's role or anything, but it's certainly something.  Typical prime years are 27-29, which essentially means that Izturis is probably on the decline, and that Bonifacio is in Deion Sanders-mode. Bonifacio, despite having just finished his age-27 season, is still offering us a pretty small sample, as far as stats go.

Izturis has something similar to a league-average walk-rate for his career, with each season coming between 7-9.5%.  I think we know what we can expect there.  Beyond that, he doesn't strike out a whole lot, keeping that right around an industry standard 12% (Bill James' projections see his k-rate at 10% this year, fwiw).  He won't hit for power, but his career slash line of .273/.337/.381 provides a wOBA of .306, pretty much average for a 2B.  Beyond that, Angels' Stadium depresses offense, so we might even see a slight uptick in his offense (i.e. slash-lines-- wOBA is park-adjusted).  He's probably due a slight regression (the good kind), thanks to a big increase in IFFB% last year, way above his normal career rate.  Fangraphs has him listed as anywhere from -3 to +7 runs on the defensive scale, though his defensive numbers have slipped each year since 2009, though that counts his time playing all three infield positions, not just 2b.

Bonifacio has only played in one (what I would call) full season, in 2011, where his babip fuelled WAR was 3.3.  Every other season, he's been decidedly below average, albeit with less playing time than your average guy.  Having said that, he's been an injury concern his entire career to this point.  He missed a bunch of time this past year with a thumb issue that kept him out of about 2 months, and then suffered a season-ending injury to his knee.

The big thing I see from Boni is that he replaces both Rajai Davis and Omar Vizquel (Mike Mccoy?), in the sense that he can play all over the diamond, and steal a shitload of bases.  Over his career, he's got 1800+ PA's, good for about three seasons' worth.  He has walked at the same rate as Izturis, but has struck out twice as much. He actully hits for even less power than Izturis (career .076 ISO, vs. .108 for Maicer), and his only season with a league-average or better wOBA was in 2010, where his babip was .372.  Having said that, Boni is definitely the kind of player who fits the profile of elevated babip (.337 career) thanks to the extra infield singles that his speed generates.  His defense at 2B, again, in a small sample, is nothing special either, though we are talking about defensive metrics here, so...

I definitely remember asking the internet if there was something that I was missing on Bonifacio, as far as why people have him slotted in over Izturis for the starting 2B role.  Looking even closer, I still see nothing, save for the stolen bases and the nice 2011 season that he had.

It's not like there isn't plenty of room for Bonifacio either-- he's probably the first option off the bench to pinch run, he can come off the bench as a switch-hitter as well (career .329 OBP is better than both Davis and Lind, .290/.337/.390 career batting line vs. LHP), and his ability to play 6 different positions, combined with his switch-hitting, not-terrible on-base skills, makes him a logical sub for Lawrie, Reyes, Izturis, Rasmus, Bautista or Cabrera if any of them happen to need a day off, or, God forbid, get injured.  I don't see any reason that he can't get 50 games in, not counting pinch-running subs, and that's assuming that nobody is injured and that everybody handles their starting jobs and doesn't get traded.  Yes, that's assuming a lot, but he's a serviceable back-up in any case that I am assuming too much.

No comments:

Post a Comment