â†µPat "The Bat" Burrell played in just 24 games for the Tampa Bay Rays before getting his release papers. Burrell was hitting just .202 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 96 plate appearances. There are 14 players in the American League with a higher batting average through at least 25 games than Burrell had slugging percentage. In short, he hasn't been very good this year. â†µâ†µ
â†µBurrell was pretty terrible for the Rays last season as well, playing in 122 games, batting .221 while slugging .367 with a then-career low OPS of .682. Ah, but he did tie his career high in steals! He had two. â†µâ†µ
â†µThat, of course, is why it's so wonderful that Burrell is currently fourth in the American League voting at Designated Hitter. The man without a team has 21,510 more votes at the position than David Ortiz. In fact, to show how little out-of-market fans know about some teams, Burrell has just over 7,000 fewer votes than his former teammate Ben Zobrist has at second base. â†µâ†µ
â†µIt's incredible. But how is it happening? Well, Burrell is a name, so he could be getting some votes just on recognition. Yet that position is riddled with names, as Vlad Guerrero leads the position in votes, with Hideki Matsui, another big name, second. Ken Griffey, who could get released by the Mariners himself before the All-Star break, is third. Then Big Papi, as mentioned above, is just behind Burrell. Looking at the names, Burrell is likely the least recognizable name on the list. â†µâ†µ
â†µSo what then? Blame Phillies fans. With another sellout against the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon, the Phillies were the first team to pass one-million fans this season…in just 23 games. The Phillies have 65 consecutive sellouts, and clearly those fans have an affinity for Burrell. Therefore, expect to see Burrell's numbers increase once Phillies fans realize their hometown favoritism has actually gotten him in the running. This could have Betty White-like ramifications. â†µâ†µ
â†µAnd look, I know a lot of the Phillies bloggers, and I'm fairly certain this will become a pet project of those sites until the voting officially closes. In 2008, Phils fans had a chance to get Burrell to the All-Star Game with the final vote, but he was beaten out by Milwaukee's Corey Hart. â†µâ†µ
â†µThis could be time for retribution. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.