Something There Is That Doesn’t Love A Wall

If you aren’t of a literary bent (I am) you probably won’t recognize where the title of this post comes from.   It is the opening line from one of my favorite poems, “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost.  Poetry can be too esoteric for some, and it is certainly open to many interpretations.  I have always believed this poem was about the boundaries of human relationships and perceptions, and how those are affected by culture, age, environment, and other factors.  The author’s use of the word “wall” for one of the neighbors and “fence” for the other, I think demonstrates this dichotomy of perception.

Well, what does this have to do with baseball exactly?.  I could launch into an exposition on how we as Cardinals fans perceive what goes on with our team in many diverse ways.  I am certainly capable of it.  But I won’t.

Actually, this post is literally about a wall; the center field wall at PNC Park to be exact.  Last night, a long fly ball was hit by Starling Marte to the left center field wall.  Peter Bourjos attempted to scale the wall to catch it, as he is perfectly capable of doing.  Unfortunately, Bourjos timed his jump incorrectly and was unable to snag the ball.  It fell to the ground, and became a triple for Marte.  Fortunately, Marte was stranded at third base, and no run scored that inning.

Despite the lack of actual harm to the Cardinals in that inning, (in fact, much worse happened later in the game that had little to nothing to do with Peter Bourjos) that failed catch has resulted in some quarters in much criticism of Bourjos.  In fairness, some of that criticism may be motivated more by the fact that Bourjos hasn’t hit in 3 games, but the topic of the failure to catch that ball has lent itself to questioning of Bourjos’ much lauded defensive skills.

As was alluded to in the previous paragraph, Bourjos has played in exactly 3—count em—3, games.  Yet that miniscule sample size has not prevented some in Cardinal Nation from feeling less than splendid about Bourjos.  I would like to point out a few things here which I think are being overlooked.

First, until this season, Bourjos has played his entire major league career in the American League.  Other than the handful of interleague games every season, he has had little to no experience with playing the outfield in National League Parks.  Infields are the same in all major league parks; outfields, not so.   There is quite a variance in dimensions of outfields across all 30 major league parks.  That is why many offensive stats are often adjusted for the size of the park in which they are hit.

According to Baseball Reference, Peter Bourjos has played the outfield in PNC Park exactly one time in his career.  That one time was last night.

The left center field wall in PNC Park is 10 feet high.  The left center field wall in Angels Stadium, where Bourjos previously played for half the season each year, is 8 feet high.  Given the 2 foot difference between the height of the wall he played in front of for the majority of his career, and the height of the wall he played in front of for the first time last night, is it that surprising that he misjudged the jump?

I have seen Peter Bourjos play center field many times in the last few seasons.  I know what he can do.  You don’t displace Mike Trout from a position if you are a slouch at it.  His defensive metrics speak for themselves.

As for his hitting, he has had 10 ABs.  If you seriously think you can draw a conclusion about his hitting from 10 ABs, well then why are you here reading this?  You are a prognosticating genius, you should be working at NASA or MIT or the Pentagon or some such place instead of wasting your time with me.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Jerry Modene

     /  April 6, 2014

    I saw somewhere that Bourjos was unable to do his usual pre-game survey of a new outfield, due to the rain delay Friday night.

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