What a weekend to be Roger Bernadina. His inning-ending Superman catch on Friday night is the best catch I’ve ever seen. On Sportscenter they said Bernadina was channeling his inner Jim Edmonds. Bernadina’s catch was better. Go to Youtube right now and look at Bernadina’s catch to rob Mike Stanton and then watch Edmonds’ famous catch (then come back here).
First, off the bat, the ball off of Stanton’s bat is in the air for almost the exact time as the ball that Edmonds’ caught, so we’ll call that part of the play a wash. I took a stopwatch to the play, and neither ball stayed in the air for very long, about 3.6 seconds. Both players also went a long way to get the ball that they caught, but the thing that clinches Bernadina’s catch for me as better than Edmonds’ is the jump. Edmonds didn’t get too far off the ground, while Bernadina seemed to stay in the air, fully extended, forever. Bernie gets style points, too, for the “snow cone” effect of his catch. Edmonds’ catch may have been more important in that it occurred in Game 7 of the NLCS. The Astros wouldn’t score in the inning, and Edmonds’ Cardinals would go on to win. Bernadina’s catch wasn’t in an unleveraged situation, though. With two men on base in a tied game, Bernie kept the Nats in it.
There may have been more important plays (Edmonds’ catch), better overall plays in terms of importance and outcome (Willie Mays’ catch and throw) and more unbelievable plays (Mark Buehrle’s scoop), but not a better pure catch. It was a thing of beauty and a standard for acrobatic catches in the future.
While we’re on the subject of Roger Bernadina, what about the rest of the weekend he had? You couldn’t ask for more from a leadoff hitter. He had six hits in 12 at-bats against the Marlins and an on-base percentage of .600. He also stole a base and ran the bases expertly. He now has an OBP of .424 for the season. If he keeps it up, I can’t see Rick Ankiel replacing him in the starting lineup when he comes back.
I thought Bernadina deserved the starting centerfield position coming out of camp and he’s proving it now. The question is whether he can keep it up for an entire season. He was up and down in terms of performance all of 2010 and had a terrible September. Nine games this season is a little early to say he’s figured it all out, but he did acknowledge that last season’s end of the year dip had a lot to do with him being tired. That’s why he worked so hard to get in shape during the offseason. That’s also what you want to see from a player, that he grows and learns.
I can’t figure out why the Nationals give such a long leash to Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa and not to Bernadina. Hopefully, Bernie’s early play this season shows that he deserves just as much of a chance to be a part of this team’s future as the other two.