Pat Burrell’s career has been filled with ups and downs, but when his six-year, $50-million contract expires at the end of this season, the positives will likely outweigh the negatives.
At one time, it seemed like a bad marriage that would never end, but here we are, nearing the twilight of Burrell’s six-year deal, and the man considered Exhibit A in the People vs. Former GM Ed Wade is playing the best baseball of his career. The untradeable albatross, who only takes "40 good swings a season," according to Arizona's GM, has thrived since last July. It was less than a year ago, July 1 to be precise, when Burrell was hitting just 201/.369/.364. Since then, his production steadily went up – and stayed up. Today, he’s batting .289/.433/.614 with 18 homers and 47 RBIs and has reached base safely in nearly every game he's played.
Here’s a quick thumbnail of Pat the Bat's career: The 2002 season went very well and Wade decided it was the right time to lock him down through 2008. His next season, the last one for the Phils at Veterans Stadium, was a hot mess and the Phils finished 15.5 games out of the running. The next two seasons – ’04 and ’05 – showed progressive improvement through injury; he set a career high in RBIs with 117 in 2005 and was named team co-MVP along with Chase Utley. The 2006 season ended in bitter disappointment as Burrell survived the July 31 fire sale, but found himself on the bench during the heat of a playoff race. Last season, he struggled for two months but caught fire, finishing with a career-high .400 OBP. Today, in what’s shaping up to be the club’s best shot at a title since 1993, he’s on track to challenge or set career highs in several categories.
Ed Wade & Pat Burrell: The gifts that keep on giving.