Look, we all make mistakes. After all, we’re human. Sometimes our judgment of a situation is flawed from the outset, prone to fallacious reasoning. Often we overestimate the probabilities of events, or the limits of our capabilities. Occasionally, we look foolish doing so, but rarely in so grand a fashion as Marcell Ozuna did on Tuesday night.
With the Cardinals hosting the Dodger in St. Louis, Kiké Hernandez launched a fly ball to left field off pitcher Mike Mayers. It left the bat with an exit velocity of 99.3 mph and had a good arc to it. Ozuna … well, he tried to be a hero:
You can’t hear Ozuna’s voice, but if you could, it would probably be some variant of the classic, “I got it! I got it! I got it! I … ain’t got it.” Ozuna scaled the wall, only to realize that the ball would fall about 10 feet short, and his effort to correct course was ungraceful, to say the least. Between his cleats digging into the padded fence, his bellyflop, and the near-miss of a flying projectile in the general vicinity of his noggin, he’s damn lucky he didn’t get injured.
Statcast guru Daren Willman harnessed all of MLB Advanced Media’s computing power to determine Ozuna’s route efficiency…
— National Science Foundation (@NSF) April 10, 2019
…wait, no, that’s not it…
…before memorializing the play in an easy-to-find location.
Never forget this glory from Ozuna last season pic.twitter.com/902Q5z1Ncc
— Michael Clair (@michaelsclair) April 10, 2019
Like Hernandez’s fly ball, that one turned into a double as well. The real issue is that Ozuna has actually scaled the wall to rob a home run before — from Hernandez no less. From July 16, 2017, when Ozuna was still a Marlin:
Given that, it’s easier to understand what happened on Tuesday night, and to be fair, the defensive metrics don’t suggest Ozuna is particularly incompetent afield, at least since leaving center field after the 2016 season, when he was 5.6 runs below average according to UZR, and 12 below according to DRS. For 2017-18, he was 7.1 runs above average in left field per UZR, and 19 above average via DRS. He even brought home a Gold Glove in 2017!
Yet time and entropy remain undefeated, which is why very few of us — besides Mike Trout, at least — are capable of the same feats we made look effortless just a couple of years ago. It’s good to laugh gracefully at such mistakes:
Some of us can’t resist laughing at, instead of with:
Kiké Hernández on Ozuna: “I’m really glad that happened to him. He deserves it. He’s my boy, I played with him, but he’s still reminding me every day of the play he made on me two years ago. The only thing that would have made it better is if it hit off his head on the way down.”
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) April 10, 2019
Really, though, we’re all just Kenley Jansen for this one:
We can’t help laughing, but we don’t want to make too big a show of it. After all, there’s a chance that we might be next.
Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe.