The Braves have fallen 3.5 games behind the Nationals in the NL East on the heels of being swept by both the Dodgers and the Padres. The lineup does not have many areas internally that they can improve upon. The one spot that the Braves can likely get more value than they have currently received is in center field. B.J. Upton has been terrible again and the Braves may soon look to put Emilio Bonifacio in the outfield on a regular basis and put Upton on the bench, as they did toward the end of the season last year.
Bonifacio is far from an offensive juggernaut, but he has been a decent outfield defender over his career and displays better on base ability and better speed than Upton does. Over the past four years, his on base percentages read .360, .330, .296, and .322. Along with that, he has stolen at least 28 bases in the previous three years, and the Braves acquired Bonifacio for his versatility and speed.
If he gets thrust into a full-time or even close to full-time role, look for him to bat leadoff to start and run wild on the bases. Last year when Bonifacio joined the Royals later in the season I picked him up and saw a huge boost in speed while he recorded a very solid .352 on base percentage with more regular play in Kansas City. His extremely slight power does not allow him to produce much of anything in terms of RBI, but he would certainly be a nice contributor in runs and stolen bases, while not hurting your on base percentage. On top of that, he is eligible at second, third, and outfield.
The only thing keeping Bonifacio from being an essential must add is the certainty of getting regular playing time. The feeling around the Braves online world is that B.J. Upton’s tenure as a full-time player this season is coming to an end. Take that for what it is worth. If you have room on your bench to stash a player and need some speed, I think it’s worthwhile to add Bonifacio and wait and see if the Braves do eventually bench Upton.
They were willing to bench him in favor of Evan Gattis in the outfield last season, and they were willing to go with Tommy La Stella over Dan Uggla earlier this year despite his expensive contract. With the team struggling and starting to fade away, do not be surprised if Fredi Gonzalez looks at Bonifacio to give the team a boost of energy at the top of the lineup.
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