April 20, 2011
Tater Trot Tracker
Peter Bourjos Pushes the Limits
On Tuesday, Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Peter Bourjos had himself quite the game. He finished the night 4-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBIs en route to a 15-4 Los Angeles rout of the hometown Texas Rangers. Of his three hits, two went for extra bases: one a double and one a two-run, seventh inning home run. That's a strong night for anyone, let alone the Angels' number-nine hitter.
Bourjos's third hit on the night was by far the most interesting. Technically, it was a run-scoring single in the sixth, but box scores don't always tell the whole tale.
It started as a simple line-drive base hit off a fastball that floated over the plate. Shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was shading towards the bag to hold on runner Mark Trumbo, ranged to his right, but didn't get close enough to even stick his glove out. Leftfielder David Murphy came charging in. If he could scoop up the ball quickly, he might have a chance to nail Trumbo at the plate. He tried to do too much. The ball scooted over Murphy's glove and kept on rolling. Murphy gave chase, but couldn't corral it until after it had reached the wall.
By this time, the Angels broadcaster was yelling. "Bourjos can fly! He's heading to third. He's going to be waved around! And he is going to score easily! A Little League home run for Peter Bourjos."
It wasn't even close. Bourjos slid into the plate to be safe, but he probably could have done a cartwheel and still made it home without the ball ever getting close to him. It was still sailing over the infield by the time he scored (it ended up at the backstop).
As fun as this play was to watch, it's really not all that rare. Misplayed balls leading to inside-the-park home runs (or their scored-as-an-error equivalent) happen a couple of times a month. So why am I devoting an entire post to this single? In all the home runs I've watched, I have never seen someone fly around the bases quicker than Bourjos. In his four-base single, Bourjos rounded the bases in 14.02 seconds. The fastest single trot in 2010 was this inside-the-park home run by Angel Pagan, and it came in at 14.48 seconds. Bourjos's trot was nearly a full half-second quicker than Pagan's.
I don't know exactly what the theoretical limit to a 360-foot home run trot is, but I have to imagine we're pushing it pretty close with this Bourjos "single". We'll just have to hope that someone even faster than Peter Bourjos gets himself into a similar situation and runs it out with full effort. I'm not sure someone like that exists, but I would've said the same thing about Angel Pagan just two days ago. That's why we watch the trots.