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Torn Between Two Burrells
2007-08-21 09:29
by Mike Carminati

Pat Burrell is quietly becoming the savior of the Phillies second half, but don't look for the fans to give him much credit in the near future. Burrell is the most universally loathed outfielder this side of J.D. Boo to Phils fandom. It's due to his accepting a gargantuan long-term contract that the Phils dangled before him as a youngster. He's Philly's version of A-Rod.

And yet Burrell, aside from an abysmal 2003 season, has been a consistently above average left fielder. He has a career OPS that is 18% better than the park-adjusted league average. He's no Hall of Famer, but he is a valuable player. Look at his most similar batters and you get a picture of what type of player he is: Glenn Davis, Cliff Johnson, Glenallen Hill. Those guys may not have been superstars but they had long productive careers (well, Davis's career fell apart pretty fast).

This season he started off as one of the worst regulars in baseball and for a time lost his starting left field job. His first half ratios are almost as bad as 2003: .215 BA/.378 OBP/.408 SLUG/.786 OPS.

I would never have expected this team with its dysfunctional staff to be able to stay in the playoff hunt after losing the best second baseman in the game (Chase Utley) for a good portion of the second half. But Burrell took over where Utley left off. His home runs went from .048 per at-bat in the first half to .070 per at-bat in the second, which would rank behind just behind Barry Bonds (.094) and Adam Dunn (.082) among starting left fielders. His second half ratios are just about the best among starting left fielders: .368/.483/.658/1.141.

Here is a comparison based on OPS between the best starting left fielders (min. 300 plate appearances) and Burrell's second half projected to match his 2007 at-bats total:

Burrell--2nd half (proj)PHI31322807480.368.483.6581.141.070
Barry BondsSFO265255811247.283.496.6111.107.094
Matt HollidayCOL48721964598.337.397.573.970.043
Pat BurrellPHI31319628278.278.428.518.946.061
Adam DunnCIN415348371133.260.369.561.931.082

Burrell's projected second half would rank number among starting left fielders for batting average, slugging, and OPS; second in on-base and walks; third in home runs per at-bats; and fourth in home runs and RBI. His second half has been so good, his overall stats even with the horrible first half Are among the best at his position (third in OPS).

To get an idea of how bad his first half was, if we project it out to his entire season, he would rank seventh worst in OPS (.786), fourth worst in slugging (.408), dead last in batting average (.215), ninth worst in home runs (15), and seventh worst in RBI (51) among starting outfielders (though his OBP, .378, would be fourth best). Here is his projected first half compared to the worst left field OPS's:

Craig MonroeDET33911551892.224.263.378.641.032
Jay PaytonBAL2794351624.254.296.358.654.014
Jason BayPIT455187949121.248.324.420.744.040
Shannon StewartOAK42110353547.290.348.401.749.024
Ryan ChurchWAS2907352465.262.328.421.749.024
Luis GonzalezLAD38310514545.279.359.420.780.026
Burrell--1st half (proj)PHI31315518080.215.378.408.786.048

The oddest thing is that Burrell has never been a second half player. His career OPS in the second half is slightly better than in the first but not by that much (.867 to .832), but his best month based on career OPS is May (.941).

Keep in mind also that September is his second worst month by career OPS (.827). So expect Burrell to start staring at those called third strikes right around the time that Utley returns to the lineup, which will go a long towards keeping the Phils from making the postseason in typical Phils fashion again this year.

2007-08-21 09:51:01
1.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Seriously Mike, Curt Schilling, Scott Rolen, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell.. the management and ownership are sub par, but the fans need to take a ton of the blame for the Phillies problems. they literally kill their own chances by chaseing their better players out of town. it might be just me by Philly fans overall seem to blend the worest of both sides... big market arrogance but also small market loser's mentality?

seriously, teams that blame their best player are usually terriblly ran small market teams, big market teams usually only loath guys that ...ummm you know... actually suck, (hell even a good portion of Yankee fans were able to screw their head on strait and disaprove all the stupid dump A-rod talks)

What next really? will we be seeing them trading Howard in a few years because he "doesn't hustle" "kills team chemistry" or "isn't a winner" ?

2007-08-21 09:58:30
2.   Yu-Hsing Chen
in the first half, Pat's number pretty much screams flukish bad luck, his discipline was just fine, the balls were completely not falling his way and not carrying into the seats. (in fact, this year Pat actually cut his Ks by about 3% per PA while showing a little more BB% too)

considering the crazy oil prices ...errr inflation amoung FAs i mean these days. Pat is just fine. he's producing at about the same rate as Hideki Matsui . if Philly fans can't stand him. the "better" LFs in the NL they probably loath even more... Dunn make Burrell look like a contact guy and Bonds... lets not go there.

2007-08-22 14:03:44
3.   Chris
I generally think it is a cliche that Philadelphia fans are so much harsher than others, but they don't the best track record either. They missed the boat with Abreu, Burell, and for that matter, Dick Allen and I guess Mike Schimdt too. However, Scott Rolen and Curt Schilling bolted on their own, while they were popular. They weren't chased out by fans.
2007-08-22 22:31:33
4.   das411
Um, and hasn't Victorino (until his recent injury) been outperforming Abreu, let alone becoming a fan favorite like #53 never was, for a fraction of the cost?

and...hey Mike, do you remember all those games in 2003, when Burrell was having an historically bad season coming off of that huge contract, and we evil horrible obnoxious Philly fans...cheered him on the entire season?

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