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: