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Pablo Sandoval walks off the Giants, Bryce Harper feared the wall

May 22, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT

Sounds like it was a wild game in San Francisco. Stephen Strasburg had a filthy changeup working and allowed only one run over seven, but the Giants came back. The first big hit: Gregor Blanco tripling in a run in the ninth.  The bigger hit: Pablo Sandoval hitting a two-run homer to walk it off in the tenth. The ball went 464 friggin’ feet.

But about that Blanco triple, get this:

Watch the play. Harper has a long way to run and a lot of guys likely miss that ball. But Harper does do a bit of a weird short-arm hop as the ball is getting to him. It’s hard to tell from the angle exactly how close he was to it. It’s possible that he just knew he was short and decided to cut off a leap and just get to the ball. But it’s also possible that, yes, he was feeling the wall, even though he wasn’t really close to it.

All of this, however, seems to be way less about fear vs. reckless abandon and more about Harper needing to get some confidence about where he is on the field at an unfamiliar park at any given time. I know the legend of his collision in Dodger Stadium is that he was sacrificing his body because he goes Mach 2 with his hair on fire all the time, but the fact is that he just didn’t know that he was that close to the fence. Same thing here.

So Bryce: don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re not going to Triple-A. You’ve had a bad week on a crappy road trip. Get some reps and confidence on balls back over you head and get beyond this.

  1. flamethrower101 - May 22, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    If the Nats had their way Harper would’ve been shut down already.

    • goskinsvt - May 22, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      Man, what a fresh joke.

  2. nolanwiffle - May 22, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    I think he looked a little skittish. Looked like a catchable ball if you pause and play just as the ball reaches him. Oddly, his feet hadn’t even touched the warning track yet.

    • evanwins - May 22, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      I thought Harper was “never going to stop playing hard”. Thought he was a Baseball Warrior? Now he can’t make a catch cause it’s near the wall?

      This guy is a total fraud. By his 4th year he’ll be exposed fully for the clown he is. He’s already showing it.

      • nolanwiffle - May 22, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        That’s not where I was going at all. I merely meant that a guy in his second year in the bigs misplayed a ball. Probably resulting from a serious collision with an outfield wall the prior week.

        He’s a great player now, and will likely continue to be for the next decade or so.

      • nolanwiffle - May 22, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        That’s not where I was going at all. I simply meant that a guy in his second year in the Bigs misplayed a hard hit ball. Probably has something to do with his colliding violently with a wall the prior week.

        He’s a great player now, and will likely continue to be great for the next decade.

  3. heyblueyoustink - May 22, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    It’s kind of a line drive, so it’s hard to blast him for not making the catch. But there *is* a lack of technique, running to a spot as opposed to tracking the ball without regard to the fence. he definitely didn’t “ball, fence, ball”, basically it was a failure of fundamentals.

  4. chacochicken - May 22, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    You know what they say, ah, something about getting right back to beating that dead horse that initially threw you forcing you to kill it in the first place…like a fox.

  5. yahmule - May 22, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    Bryce needs to give himself a break. Craig is right about his lack of awareness out there, but keep in mind, he’s a converted catcher without that much experience in the outfield. I’ve seen guys with many more games in the outfield have similar issues. Jay Bruce, for example.

  6. historiophiliac - May 22, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Punks.

    • chacochicken - May 22, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Hoodlums, really

  7. Marty - May 22, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    I knew HBT’s post on the Pablo Sandavol walk off would have “Bryce Harper” in the title.

    In fact, if Harper was not integrated here, mention of the Sandavol homer would surely have been buried in the nightly recap thread.

    I like Harper and have nothing against him. I understand that he is a key figure in the game and like Tebow, no hate on the him for the attention others give him. But one line on Pablo and three paragraphs on Harper says it all – obsession.

    • Kevin S. - May 22, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      There’s a major difference between Bryce Harper and Tim Tebow – one is actually good at his chosen profession.

    • goskinsvt - May 22, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      It’s only worth mentioning because without the Harper play, Pablo doesn’t even have a chance to walkoff.

      • Marty - May 22, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        As Craig’s admits “a lot of guys miss that ball”. How many of those other guys would be written about at length? …and Harper still gets his HBT headline this morning.

      • tycobbfromfangraphs - May 22, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        Dear West Coast sport fans, it’s true, the important part of the world is asleep when you’re doing stuff. We don’t care as much unless it involved a true star like East Coast playing Bryce Harper. K? Accept it or start doing things earlier in your day to catch our attention.

  8. misterj167 - May 22, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    I’m not Harper’s biggest fan but that ball was tattooed and I think he’s being a little hard on himself, maybe because he’s so talented he’s expected to do so much more. Blanco himself said he understood, having played out there he knows how hard RF is in that park.

    I saw where Soriano wasn’t happy either but you know what dude, you gave up the hit to begin with.

    Baseball’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long season and you can’t let stuff get to you.

  9. APBA Guy - May 22, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Bad as hitting the chain link in Dodger Stadium was on Harper, going melon-first into the bricks at AT&T is another level of pain and destruction. I said after the first incident that Harper needs to be aware of the track width and how many strides it takes to cross that width, and got furiously thumbed down from I presume DC fans for whom no word concerning Harper can be less than laudatory. As Yahmule said above, he’s a kid, he’s a converted catcher, he’s learning the position.

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