Considering hitting Bonifacio ninth?
Tony La Russa has been doing it. Now, Fredi Gonzalez is considering it.
The Marlins manager said on Friday that he may opt to bat the Marlins pitcher in the eighth spot, and slot Emilio Bonifacio ninth.
With the Marlins playing on the road in Interleague action the next six games, they will be using the designated hitter. So that scenario doesn’t come into play. Bonifacio on Friday at Toronto was hitting ninth.
It will be interesting to see where Bonifacio is batting when the team returns to Land Shark Stadium on July 19 against the Yankees. At that point, the pitcher will again hit.
“You can say I’d consider it,” Gonzalez said of batting Bonifacio ninth, and the pitcher eighth.
It may come down to who is on the mound. Gonzalez said may do it with Josh Johnson, a decent hitting pitcher. Johnson already has a three-run home run to dead center field at Land Shark Stadium.
The last time a Marlins pitcher batted anywhere but ninth was in 2005. At the end of that season, manager Jack McKeon regularly slotted Dontrelle Willis eighth. Once, Willis hit as high as seventh.
La Russa in St. Louis has regularly hit the pitcher eighth because he feels as the game moves on, it increases the chances of more runners being on base when Albert Pujols steps to the plate.
Gonzalez’s reasoning has more to do with the makeup of their lineup than beefing up the order for, say, Hanley Ramirez, who hits third.
If he slides Bonifacio out of the second spot, Gonzalez must consider who to replace him. One choice could be Dan Uggla, who flourished hitting second in 2006 and 2007 when he batted between Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera. Uggla on Friday was hitting sixth.
John Baker also could hit there, setting up two straight left-handed hitters when Chris Coghlan leads off.
Bonifacio is young and the Marlins want to have him protected in the lineup.
Bonifacio has hit mostly leadoff all season, and the past two weeks he’s been hitting mostly second.
From the leadoff spot, Bonifacio has 211 at-bats, and his batting average is .246, with a .288 on-base percentage. He’s appeared in 10 games hitting second, and his numbers from there are .250 with a .333 on-base.
Why not just bat Bonifacio eighth and keep the pitcher ninth?
That could be an option. But the Marlins are hopeful the 23-year-old speedster will emerge into a quality hitter. They don’t want to frustrate him by having him see less pitches with the pitcher behind him. And batting ahead of the pitcher presents a challenge to any eighth batter.
Cody Ross could be most impacted by such a move since he hits seventh. But Ross also has batted eighth, and he has some more big league seasoning to make the necessary adjustments.
In the second spot, Bonifacio has the luxury of Ramirez behind him, and in theory he should see better pitches to hit. If he hit ninth, the top of the order would follow. So it may create a situation where the switch-hitting speedster can serve basically as a leadoff batter at the bottom of the order.
— Joe Frisaro