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Emilio Bonifacio is one of the best kept secrets in baseball. An average hitter, Bonifacio is insanely fast -- enough so that he could probably challenge Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon in a foot race. In 2012, he stole 30 bases in just 64 games, and was caught only three times. But getting to first has been a problem for Bonifacio, and he's bounced around the league over the past few years, from Miami to Toronto to Kansas City and finally to the Chicago Cubs, where, incredibly, he's off to one of the fastest starts in baseball.
Through the Cubs' first six games of the season, the 30-year-old utility man leads the majors in hits (14) and stolen bases (4). He's one of the trendiest pick-ups in fantasy baseball, and for good reason. Bonifacio does indeed deserve to be owned in standard leagues right now, but I need to emphasize that qualifier: right now he's worth owning. In a month or two? Not so much.
I realize this is going to come off as nitpicking, but Bonifacio just put together one of the most underwhelming .500 batting weeks I've ever seen. Yes, the average and the stolen bases were awesome, but let's keep in mind that he tallied just five runs. For all the times he was on base in the past week, he only scored 5 times. Again, consider that this was literally as good as Bonifacio will ever be. He was on base more times than anyone in the majors. And yet he barely scored at all.
This is what happens when you're the leadoff hitter on one of the worst teams in baseball; it doesn't exactly pay to be a table-setter, when the guys hitting behind you have names like Ryan Kalish, Nate Schierholtz, Luis Valbuena and Ryan Sweeney. And when Bonifacio's average regresses to something more typical, he's barely going to help owners in anything at all, as he's already unable to help them in homers or RBI. The stolen bases are the one linchpin to his value, but he'll have to amass a ton of them to remain in the standard-leagues conservation, and I'm not convinced he can get on base enough to do that.
If you could bottle the essence of Bonifacio at his best and spread it out over the course of a full season, we'd have a Silver Slugger on our hands. But he's too inconsistent. He's valuable when he's getting on base like this, but he's yet to prove that he can do that outside of a few prolonged bursts. He got off to exactly the same start in 2009 -- through six games, he was hitting .500 in as many at-bats as he's had in 2014 -- and he pretty much stopped hitting after that, going 11-65 over his next 15 games. By the end of the year, he was hitting .252.
You're well within your right to own Bonifacio right now, but don't do it with the expectation of him being a permanent fixture on your fantasy team. In other words, enjoy it while it lasts.
For your consideration
• David Robertson landed on the 15-day DL on Monday with a strained groin, and in his place, Shawn Kelley recorded a clean save against the Orioles. Over the past few years, Robertson was one of the few non-closing relievers worth owning in fantasy leagues, thanks to his high strikeout total and low ERA. He's primed to excel as the Yankees' closer in the post-Rivera era, but his owners may as well give Kelley a shot if they need help in saves over the next few weeks.
• Trevor Plouffe went 1-4 in Oakland and is currently hitting .370 to go with six runs and seven RBI. Plouffe, quite frankly, isn't someone you should ever need to rush out and get, what with him being a lifetime .243 hitter and all. But he's pretty streaky, and he's good for at least a couple bursts a year where he's simply on fire at the plate. Sadly, he no longer has eligibility at any position other than third, but he's not a bad utility add in deep leagues when he's rolling like this.
• In his first appearance of the year, Ryan Cook walked a pair but otherwise got through an inning of work against the Twins. Jim Johnson has been horrendous so far as the A's closer, and Cook has the stuff to flourish in the role -- though, to be fair, it didn't work out so well the last time he gave it a shot. We're still early, and Johnson probably has a bit more leash as the ninth inning stopper, but do yourself a favor and put Cook in your watch list.
• Bobby Parnell is going to have Tommy John surgery, which vaults the thoroughly-unreliable Jose Valverde into regular closer status for the Mets. In a world where Fernando Rodney can magically reinvent himself as one of the best relievers in baseball, it's not impossible that Valverde could string together a decent season. It'd be a surprise, though.
You can follow David Pincus on Twitter @Reetae_.