I have to admit I was excited to hear the Toronto Blue Jays added Maicer Izturis to their roster early in the offseason. I thought even if we don’t add much more he will definitely make the team better. Little did I know that this was shaping up to be the biggest offseason in team history and after also acquiring Emilio Bonifacio I wanted to compare the two possible candidates for our second base job?
Let’s start with last season’s numbers:
Both played on a part time basis last year so it’s tough to get a handle on what either could do with a full seasons worth of plate appearances based on those numbers. Let’s take a look at both of their best offensive campaigns and compare, for a best case scenario for either player:
|Emilio Bonifacio (2011)||641||296||360||393||167||26||5||78||40|
|Maicer Izturis (2009)||437||300||359||434||116||22||8||74||13|
These are similar players overall offensively with the edge in speed going to Bonifacio and the slight edge in power going to Izturis. One big difference is the approach at the plate, Bonifacio walks at a 8.3% career clip (Izturis 8.2) but strikes out 20% of the time (Izturis 10.7).
Given the Blue Jays past problems with the strikeouts or lack of contact at key times this might be a huge edge for Izturis when competition for jobs starts in spring training. He can better “handle the bat” in key situations and you know John Gibbons is an old school kind of guy.
Where Maicer Izturis really pulls away however is with the glove as he is miles ahead of Bonifacio in the infield. Izturis can play a slightly below league average shortstop and has proven to be a very capable defender at second base.
Izturis for his career (1965 innings) at second base has a very respectable (if not elite) +11.6 UZR while Bonifacio (587 innings) checks in with a less than stellar -2.6 UZR. This might ultimately be the difference when selecting the starter at the keystone corner. Izturis has better range, is better at turning the double play and is less error prone.
With the current makeup of the Blue Jays staff (like most teams) they will be reliant on their defense to make plays behind them and turn balls hit into play into outs. Jays fans might not want to hear this but Jose Reyes is anything but an elite defender at shortstop whose range has really suffered the past three years. He has negative UZR ratings of -5.0, -3.1 and -2.8 the past three seasons and most of that is due to a severe reduction in range (possibly injury related?).
Solidifying the infield defense has to be a priority and I do not see any other scenario in which come opening day 2013 the Toronto Blue Jays starting second basemen is not named Maicer Izturis. Emilio Bonifacio is going to play an extremely key role and for the first time the Blue Jays will have serious protection against injury at several key outfield and infield positions.
The baseball season is a grueling marathon and our bench depth has never been greater. That has to be viewed as a huge positive heading into 2013.
What do you guys think, Izturis or Bonifacio?