They do call it a change of scenery deal for a reason, I suppose.
So how does one go from being one of the worst players in the majors to a productive one? For Emilio Bonifacio, the answer has been to get himself traded to a playoff contender from the nightmare that is the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays — in this case, the Kansas City Royals.
Well, at least that was the initial thought, anyway.
Losers of seven out of their last 10 after climbing to within striking distance of the Detroit Tigers not too long ago, whatever spark that Bonifacio has provided from the team hasn’t been enough to keep them from falling back into third place in the AL Central, with the division becoming all but mathematically out of reach at a distance of 9.5 games.
They’re still in the mix for a Wild Card spot, but at seven games back and with several teams ahead of them, the Royals’ chances have dwindled to 4.4 percent at this point, and that hope is fading fast.
Not that Bonifacio has had much to do about that, though. In fact, at 0.7 fWAR over just 13 games in August with his new team, the utility infielder is already tied for the second most valuable player on the team over the month. If you limit it to only the time that he’s been on the team? He’s been the most valuable player for KC … period.
Quite the turnaround from the .579 OPS player who literally couldn’t do anything right on the field while he was in Toronto, eh?
Currently on a modest four-game hit streak with the last two being multi-hit performances, Bonifacio has shown the Royals every facet of his game-changing ability, whether it’s his .318/.423/.409 line that shows off both his hit tool and surprising 15.4 percent walk rate (4.3 in Toronto), or his team-leading eight stolen bases.
He’s even been playing defense at 0.4 fielding runs above average … so, I suppose you could say he’s trying pretty hard to make that next arbitration deal count (or hope for an extension).
Then again, maybe the fact that Bonifacio has been arguably the Royals’ best player since he arrived says a whole lot more on its own about the team’s dwindling playoff chances in the first place — just saying.