Pat Burrell Retiring Due To Chronic Injury

Pat Burrell has a chronic foot injury that isn't getting any better, so the 35-year-old veteran is opting to retire.

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Pat's one-day return

Pat Burrell will sign a one-day minor-league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. What's the point?

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FanGraphs: Pat Burrell Not A Bust

Monday, on the heels of the news that veteran outfielder Pat Burrell was calling it quits, our own Grant did some research and declared that Burrell was the most average first-overall pick in baseball history. Tuesday, Dave Cameron at FanGraphs used a slightly different means to investigate a similar matter. His startling conclusion?

Burrell is basically the definition of a nice player with a long career. He was never a superstar, but perhaps expecting the top pick in every draft to become a superstar simply is unrealistic. Of the 28 careers that have been played under that kind of pressure, we’re only looking at three guys whose on the field performance puts them in Cooperstown. Mauer, Upton, and Gonzalez could potentially push that total to six, but even that best case outcome would still only represent one-in-five of these guys ending up enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Grant found that Burrell was pretty much the most average first-overall pick ever. Cameron found that Burrell was pretty much the most average first-overall pick ever. What we can say with a high degree of certainty is that Burrell was pretty much the most average first-overall pick ever.

And as an average first-overall pick, that means that Burrell wasn't a bust. You could say that Burrell disappointed. You could say that Burrell didn't reach his ceiling. Maybe that would be fair. But most players don't reach their ceilings. In that regard, most players disappoint. Pat Burrell wound up being about as good as one should've expected him to be, given his draft position.

Fun fact - Pat Burrell in double-A as a prospect:

.333/.438/.631

That was in 1999. Several months later, Baseball America called Burrell the No. 2 prospect in the league. He was sandwiched by Rick Ankiel and Corey Patterson. And people want to call Burrell a bust?

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John Sickels: Pat Burrell Prospect Retrospective

As the first-overall pick in the 1998 draft, you'd expect Pat Burrell to be something of a hot prospect, and he certainly was. There were concerns with his athleticism and defense that proved prescient, but he was always expected to rake. John Sickels took a look back at Pat the Bat's career:

Burrell got into 37 pro games for Clearwater in the High-A Florida State League, hitting .303/.416/.530 with 27 walks and 22 strikeouts in 132 at-bats. In the 1998 book, I wrote "the main question for Burrell is his ability to hit for average.

Some scouts see him as a .300 hitter, with lots of walks, perhaps similar to Jeff Bagwell. Other observers regard him as a .260-.270 hitter, similar to Eric Karros, productive but not outstanding. My guess is that he won't be as good as Bagwell but will be better than Karros." I gave him a Grade B+ and ranked him the Number 20 hitting prospect in baseball.

When Burrell came up in 2000, he finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting behind Rafael Furcal, Jay Payton, and Rick Ankiel v. 1.0.

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The Good Phight: Pat Burrell Worthy Of Appreciation

Something you know by now is that Pat Burrell is retiring, due in large part to a chronic foot injury, and due in smaller part to an assortment of other things. Something you might not know is that Burrell won two World Series rings, and owns the fourth-highest home run total in Phillies history. The leaderboard:

(1) Mike Schmidt, 548
(2) Ryan Howard, 286
(3) Del Ennis, 259
(4) Pat Burrell, 251
(5) Chuck Klein, 243

He's also tied for the 309th-highest stolen base total in Phillies history. He's tied with guys named Don Hoak and Al Maul, and he's one behind Tadahito Iguchi. Remember Tadahito Iguchi? Remember Tadahito Iguchi on the Phillies?

Phillies blog The Good Phight said its pharewell (haha!) to Burrell in November, when it became apparent that he'd probably have to retire. Quote:

His greatest moment on the field in Philadelphia was also his last -- in the seventh inning of Game Five of the 2008 World Series, Burrell rocketed a double off the left field wall for his first and only hit of the series. Pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett would eventually score on Pedro Feliz's RBI single later that inning in what would be the Series-winning run. As a fitting tribute, and a not-so-subtle farewell gesture, the Phillies allowed Burrell, accompanied by his wife and his beloved bulldog, Elvis, to lead the World Series parade down Broad Street on a Clydesdale-drawn wagon.

Here is that double:


(click on the box?)

In Burrell, baseball isn't losing a guy at his physical peak. It's losing a guy who used to be all kinds of productive, though, and it's losing a guy who until his final day was among the game's biggest characters. Burrell will probably remain the same sort of character.

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Pat Burrell: The Most Average First-Overall Pick In Baseball History

Well, nothing about Pat Burrell was especially average or boring. He was a three-true-outcome guy who usually didn't have to worry about running too hard because he was either jogging to first base, jogging around the bases, or walking slowly back to the dugout after a strikeout.

But when it comes to bWAR -- not a flawless metric, but surely one of the best metrics that can be distilled into a single number -- Pat Burrell was the midpoint between the first-ballot Hall of Famer that every team thinks they're getting with the first-overall pick and the pain that comes with the complete busts. From Baseball Reference on first-overall picks:

47 matching player(s). 41 played in the majors (87%). Total of 799.2 WAR, or 19.5 per major leaguer.

That number could get a boost if/when Bryce Harper and/or Gerrit Cole arrive in the majors, but until then Burrell's 18.7 bWAR is about as average as can be for a first-overall pick in the amateur draft. It's far from the Hall of Fame dominance of a player like Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, or Ken Griffey Jr, but it hints at exactly what Burrell was -- an often productive, flawed player who was good enough to get a few MVP votes, but never good enough to make an All-Star team.

Even though your image of Burrell's defense might be the exact same one I have -- that of a man with radiation poisoning who can't get his foot out of a gopher hole -- his defensive numbers weren't that bad. He came, he slugged, he lumbered, and now he's heading off into the void.

He wasn't a once-in-a-generation slugger. He wasn't a washout who couldn't even make the majors for a cup of coffee. He was Pat Burrell, Average First-Overall Pick. There are worse things to be.

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Pat Burrell Retiring After 12 Seasons

Plagued by a chronic foot injury, 35-year-old veteran Pat Burrell is hanging 'em up. He was a powerful one.

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