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2012 Fantasy Baseball's Best Kept Secret

One shtick, two shtick, red shtick, blue shtick!

In the blog the pundits come and go

talking of Bonifacio. 

T.S. Eliot evidently was not a baseball fan, and even if he had been, he likely wouldn't have played fantasy. But if he had, and he ceased writing long enough to construct a time machine, and it worked, and he travelled to 2012, and his travel through time didn't thereby create the prototypical parallel universe which nullified the entire process, he would be just as high as me this year on Emilio Bonifacio!

Yes, Eliot fans, Emilio Bonifacio is the secret to your 2012 fantasy baseball success. Or, he was. Or, he will be unless you play in leagues that include managers influenced by RotoAuthority.com, which, is, like, every league, so you're screwed. Go skittishly "like" the picture that girl you've been stalking for the past year just posted to her Wall.

But, but, BUT, if, somehow, not everyone is heavily influenced by my opinion of Emilio! Bonifacio!, draft him. And draft him late! Why, you ask, insubordinately? Prepare to be bullet-pointed:

  • Emilio Bonifacio is all but assured the position of Miami Marlins starting center fielder in 2012. Ozzie Guillen has already talked about batting the "rabbits" (Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio) in front of Hanley Ramirez. See also here
  • Bonifacio qualifies at SS, 3B, OF, and even 2B in some leagues. Position flexibility is a key factor in reaching the games played limit for each roster spot.
  • He turns 27 in April. In each of the last three seasons, Bonifacio has improved his LD% (18.9, 22.0, 24.0% in '11), thereby improving his BABIP (.312, .333, .372 in '11). Bonifacio's BB% has also increased in the last three seasons (6.7%, 8.5%, 9.2% in '11), and his OBP has risen accordingly with these improvements (.303, .320, .360 in '11). 
  • Bonifacio is an accomplished basestealer. In 2011, Bonifacio stole 40 bases in 51 attempts, a 78.4% success rate. His career success rate in the majors is 76.2%. In the minors, an identical 76.2%. With an OBP in the .350 range, Bonifacio should continue to see significant stolen base opportunities. 
  • The Marlins offense is sure to improve in 2012, given the probable rebound of Hanley Ramirez and the likely growth of Mike Stanton. Batting second in front of Ramirez and Stanton will increase Bonifacio's PA and should create ample scoring chances.

A conservative projection for Emilio Bonifacio is .270/0/80/30/30, with upside for .310/5/105/50/50. Qualifiying at SS, Bonifacio is tremendously underrated in drafts. His current ADP at Mock Draft Central is 177. As recently as January 20th, Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN ranked him 21st among SS for 2012. Is there really much difference between Elvis Andrus (ADP 44) and Emilio Bonifacio in 2012, apart from Andrus's entrenchment at his defensive position and his superior supporting cast? Sure, Andrus is only 22, but what reason do we have to think he'll ever hit for more average or more power? Will he get faster as he gets older?

In short, unless you are fortunate enough to end up with one of the big three (Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez), please wait on the SS position in 2012. Do not reach for a middling SS in the middle rounds. Pick from the fruit of Lance Berkman and Brandon Beachy while others reach for Erick Aybar at pick 100, and then smile broadly when you select Bonifacio during the inevitable closer run, somewhere around pick 150. 

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