It takes a whole lot to stand out as the least valuable player of a notably disappointing team, but that’s exactly just what Emilio Bonifacio has done as the Toronto Blue Jays‘ first-half anti-MVP.
When the utility man game over from the Miami Marlins in the offseason with a whole group of his teammates, there were no lack of flattering terms used from the baseball lexicon by Blue Jays nation to describe what his impact might be on the retooled bluebirds: he was to be a dynamic, versatile, toolsy speed demon who could play both in the infield and out, and seemingly fit the perfect archetype to become fan favourite in the city.
Needless to say, he has gone well below and short of all expectations.
Instead, through 79 games and 245 PA, Bonifacio has been an empty toolbox: he can’t hit to save his life (.207/.248/.304 triple-slash), can’t play defense (-2.2 fielding runs above average, seven errors at second), and doesn’t get on base enough to be able to use to use his speed … nor has he been a particularly adept base-stealer. (11 of 16 attempts).
In fact, he can’t even lay down a simple bunt, either for a hit or sacrifice — he has just three or the former and three of the latter in 14 bunt attempts.
No one is really sure where it all went wrong for the 28-year-old, but to say that the adjustment to the AL has been a difficult one for him might just win you the understatement of the 2013 season. He’s failed to produced regardless of where the team has put him, and even his “hot streak” in July thus far has equated to a .675 OPS with a .250 batting average.
Though he might not have quite the -0.8 fWAR that Maicer Izturis holds because he’s not as bad on defense, there’s little question that his -0.7 fWAR presence in the lineup only hurts the team in just about every capacity, and that he still gets opportunities should tell you a little something about the shape that the Blue Jays infield is in right now (hint: it’s not in the best of times).
In a year where high-profile arms like R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson have struggled, it takes a special kind of bad to do what Bonifacio has done — it’s just too bad futility doesn’t win ball games.