To the surprise of critics, there have been no signs of collapse in Pat Burrell’s game this season. The only question now is whether his wrist will fail him. (AP Photo)
Obviously, Brett Myers has been the nicest surprise in the Phillies starting rotation, finally living up to his first-round promise. But overall I’d say Pat Burrell’s steady season with the lumber is the nicest story thus far.
I buried “the Bat” this winter, writing three or four posts on the dangers of keeping his contract. After a wretched 2003 and sub-par 2004, I was convinced the writing was on the wall. His mechanics were terrible. He was pulling off the ball. He was cooked for sure.
Burrell wasn't without his supporters, however, as fellow Phils blogger and attorney at law Mike Berquist defended the franchise slugger as we engaged in a mock-trial. As evidence, I had stats on my side. Now, the stats are on his.
The difference: In spring, he entered camp with a new approach. He wasn’t going to think anymore. He was going to hack. And hack he has.
Aside from one stretch in late April, Burrell has earned every cent of his $7.25 million, named NL player of the week twice, the first Phillie that’s done it since Von Hayes in 1986. He still looks terrible at the plate, but so what.
Surprisingly, the ever-underrated Bobby Abreu has received most accolades, otherwise Burrell would be the one getting the push for all-star votes. Rest assured they're both getting my vote.
In terms of runs created (RC)*, he has 33, among the league leaders in that category and tied with the much ballyhooed Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins.
This winter I’m embarrassed to admit I made a wager, betting Burrell would finish with fewer runs created than Raul Mondesi of Atlanta. Mondesi so far has 10.
Burrell is certainly a big reason why the Phils are still hanging on, but suddenly there’s concern. From Ken Mandel of mlb.com yesterday:
It didn't look good at all when Pat Burrell lost his bat on a swing in the sixth inning of Wednesday's 8-5 win over the Marlins.
It looked worse when he grabbed his wrist and grimaced, and still worse when Endy Chavez replaced him in the bottom of the sixth.
Manuel said taking Burrell out was a precaution, and the skipper expected him to be ready for Friday's game in Atlanta.
"It's fine," said Burrell. "I'm not going to overreact. That's for [the media].”
If blogs represent media, than this blogger is about to overreact. I’m pretty scared about this. If Burrell goes down, any chance at the post-season could be dashed.
I want to know your thoughts on Burrell and the ongoing situation with his wrist. More than anything, I want to know if you counted him out as I did, or that his comeback comes as no surprise.
*Runs Created. Invented by Bill James, RC is a very good measure of the number of runs a batter truly contributed to his team’s offense. The basic formula for RC is OBP*TB, but it has evolved into over fourteen different versions. The Hardball Times uses the most complicated version, which includes the impact of hitting well with runners in scoring position, and is adjusted for ballpark impact.
Phillies blog note:
After some minor technical setbacks, Tom Goodman is back writing on Swing and a Miss this morning. Check him out.