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Farewell, Emilio Bonifacio

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MLB: Atlanta Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

(Ivan’s note: I would say that I apologize in advance for this, but I really don’t. Emilio Bonifacio is finally off my favorite professional sports team, perhaps for good. Rejoice!)

Once upon a time, a major league manager worked with his coaching staff in a faraway land called Cobb County. He liked his job, but he had one big problem: his bench was terrible, and he didn’t know what to do about it.

His bench had a guy who seemed like he could hit and field at least decently, but never seemed to do that well. It had a guy who was way more into his musical career than not getting sent to AAA. There were also two catchers, which seemed kind of weird to the manager, but he knew it better not to question some things. Still, his bench made him sad and frustrated when he thought about it.

Every single time the pitcher’s spot came up in a high leverage situation, the manager thought, “Boy, what am I going to do? I guess I could use Julio Teheran to pinch-hit, but the other managers might laugh at me. I wish I had some better options.” He talked to his bench coach and asked him what to do. “Go see the GM,” he told him, and after arguing a while (because that’s what managers and bench coaches do), he went.

The GM greeted him and said, “I see something is troubling you. Whatever it is, you can tell me.”

And so, the manager told the GM how miserable things were with his bench. The manager told the GM, “This bench is depressing. The first names of our two utility infielders rhyme, and for some reason, we have three catchers on the 25-man roster. Life couldn’t be worse.”

The GM thought very deeply about the manager’s problem. Then he said, “Do exactly as I tell you and things will get better. Do you promise?”

“I promise,” the manager said.

The manager then asked the manager a strange question: “Are you familiar with Emilio Bonifacio?”

“Yes,” the manager said. “I know of Emilio Bonifacio. I also know of his pseudo-clone, Danny Santana.”

“Good,” the GM said. “When you get back to your clubhouse, I will have put Emilio Bonifacio and Danny Santana on your bench, and you shall welcome them onto your roster and live in harmony with them.”

The manager was astonished to hear this advice from the GM, but he had promised to do exactly what the GM said. So he went back to the clubhouse and made Emilio Bonifacio and Danny Santana feel like real members of the team, even though they were pretty terrible major leaguers.

The next day, the manager ran back to see the GM. “What have you done to me, John?” he cried. “It’s awful. I did what you told me and the results are even worse than the possibility of using Julio Teheran to pinch-hit! John, help me!”

The GM listened and said calmly, “Now go back to your clubhouse and see that Emilio Bonifacio’s pseudo-clone is no longer on your bench.”

The manager did as the GM said, but hurried back the next day. “Danny Santana is gone, but John, Emilio Bonifacio!” he moaned. “Bonifacio swings through 86 mile-per-hour fastballs down the middle, and can’t lay down a bunt against a soft-tossing lefty without striking out!”

The GM said, “Go home and I will have removed Emilio Bonifacio from your bench, and may Trout bless you.” And the manager hurried back to the clubhouse to find Emilio Bonifacio nowhere in sight.

The next day the manager came running back to the GM again. “O Coppy,” he said with a big smile on his face, “we have such a good bench now. It doesn’t even bother me that Jace Peterson has inexplicably only been worth 0.1 fWAR in over 1,000 major league plate appearances, or that Chase d’Arnaud has a career wRC+ lower than that of Dontrelle Willis. The bench is now rid of Emilio Bonifacio! What a joy!”

And everyone lived happily ever after.

This was written around Opening Day, and only slightly adjusted thereafter, as you can probably tell by the mention of Chase d’Arnaud, who was most recently sharing the shortstop position with Erick Aybar on the 2017 Padres. So at least the Braves aren’t them?

In case you were curious, the story above is a traditional Jewish story, with hopefully a pretty clear lesson. I think that lesson applies very well here. You can see a variant of this story here.

Over the last two seasons, Emilio Bonifacio appeared in 62 games for the Braves, in which he garnered 87 plate appearances and 110 defensive innings, all in the outfield. Over that time period, he put up a wRC+ of 10 while amassing -1 DRS and -4.3 UZR. In total, he was worth -1.2 fWAR in those 87 plate appearances.

Only eight players put up worse performances than Bonifacio since the start of the 2016 season. However, all of those did so in about 200 PAs or more. Emilio Bonifacio accumulated his sorry below-replacement-level anchor of negative value in under 90 PAs. No player with more than 50 PAs over the last two seasons has been as bad as Bonifacio on a per-PA basis.

So long, Emilio Bonifacio. You might be a pretty cool dude, but I have no idea why you were on the roster in the first place.