100 Greatest Phillies: 22 – Pat Burrell

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, March 05, 2009 04:00 PM | Comments: 69
100 Greatest Phillies, Posts

Pat Burrell

Career w/Phillies: .257 AVG / 251 HR / 827 RBI / 5 SB

With the first pick in the 1998 draft, the Phillies selected Pat Burrell, a big outfielder from the University of Miami. In return, the slugger gave the Phils and their fans nine crazy but ultimately rewarding seasons. He finished second on the franchise all-time home run list with 251, but no hit was larger than his final hit as a Phillie, a smoked double off the left-center field wall that turned into the winning run of the clinching game of the 2008 World Series. Before then, Burrell bashed the ball regularly, with eight straight seasons of 20 or more home runs. He also had troubles staying consistent, hitting for below a .260 average six times. Still, his best seasons were extremely good. In 2002 he hit .282 with 37 homers, and he parlayed a ridiculous second half in 2007 to finish with 30 homers. He also reached base a ton toward the end of his run, finishing in the NL top 10 for walks in his final four seasons in Philadelphia. He signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009, the same team that fell victim to his biggest hit.

Comment: Burrell gave fans some great times during his nine-year career. He was what he was: A strong power hitter who found consistency sparingly. But when he was on, boy was he on. We’ll miss Burrell, and he definitely earns a top 25 spot in the Greatest Phillies countdown, with a little debate on whether he should be top 20.


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  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    You’re right Manny, that was a great one and Phil also mentioned the one off of Valverde last year and don’t forget the two that he hit off of Wagner in ’07.

  • Posts: 0 Ed R.

    Good player, great hitter, and a stand-up guy. Pat’s yet another example of dealing with unrealistic expectations. If you liked him, you saw the clutch play, the ability to get on base, and the desire at the plate. If you didn’t like him you saw him watching third strikes, enduring long slumps, and not acting like a baby when he was frustrated (unlike so many big leaguers).

    For me, he eventually evolved into a Doug DeCinces-type player (albeit weaker in the field and stronger at the plate): a guy whose numbers would come in bunches, a guy who could get unbelievably hot and carry a team for a month, a guy whose long slumps would leave you utterly mystified.

    Finally, let’s look at a somewhat unscientific comparison:

    Player #1:

    G 1306, H 1166, HR 251, RBI 827, BB 785, SO 1273, OBP .367, SLG .485

    Player #2:

    G 1289, H 1299, HR 223, RBI 811, BB 622, SO 1098, OPB .375, SLG .519

    In the field, player #1 probably gets the nod by a small margin due to slightly better FP and more assists.

    Player #1 is Pat Burrell, obviously.

    Player #2 is Greg Luzinski (White Sox stats excluded).

    Not all that different, really. The Bull’s a bit better at the plate, Pat gets the nod in the field (people tend to forget the Bull’s crappy fielding; even Skates seemed better, so the Bull got to sit out large portions of the Series). The Bull probably gets the nod overall, but not by a whole lot, and some of it’s due to nostalgia. Pat could easily be higher than this.

    By the way, if any of my numbers are wrong, please let me know. I did the Bull’s Phillie stats pretty quickly, so they be off a tad.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Ed R., nice post. Their stats are amazingly close.

  • Posts: 0 David

    He was also pretty damn good at hitting Mets pitching.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    How is Pat Burrell’s BBQ sauce though?

  • Posts: 0 Richie Allen

    I know everbody is now warm & fuzzy about Burrell now….But I’ll always remember him striking out many,many ,many times on that low outside slider from a righthanded pitcher.
    You could almost see it happening in your mind before he missed the pitch for strike 3.

  • Posts: 0 Paul

    Way, way too high. Are you kidding me – Granny Hammer had more impact for an entire Phillies career. Not always, but too often empty numbers . If you want to merit on big numbers Del Unser and Marty Bystrom would be right there with Pat.

  • Posts: 0 Ed R.

    Hindsight’s golden, but at this point I’d rather have Pat for 2 years at $16m than Ibanez for 3 at $30m. If Pat gets his ABs for Tampa he’ll put up some very good numbers, I’m guessing in the 33HR, 115RBI range. If they have him protecting Eva Longoria in the lineup he’ll see a lot of baserunners when he’s up. I think it was a mistake to let him go, but I don’t think management dreamed they could get him as cheaply as the Rays did.

  • Posts: 0 Ed R.


    Del Unser? You must mean Del Ennis. Ennis’ stats are certainly better than Burrell’s, and he was around longer so he has both better numbers and length-of-service in his favor. I have no problem with Ennis being higher than Burrell on the list.

    Marty Bystrom? Marty Bystrom? Would that be the Marty Bystrom who had two whole winning seasons (5-0 in 1980 and a big 4-3 in 1981)? Would that be the Marty Bystrom who had a grand total of 64 starts for the Phils? The Marty Bystrom with an ERA north of 4? All Bystrom has on the positive side of the ledger is 1980. Not a bad thing to have, but nothing like Pat.

    As for Hammer, if you want to like him more than Burrell, go ahead, but if you compare the two statistically Burrell’s the clear winner. It’s not even close.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I don’t like Randy Wolf higher than Myers.. and some other things, but its a hell of a good list, has kept us all entertained, and is teaching us some Phillies history along the way!

    Can’t wait to see the Top 10..

    Keep up the good work, Tim & Crew!

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    I wonder how many of you actually seen Luzinski played during his years with the team? For those who have not and are relying only on stats for comparison, I can tell you it does not give you the complete picture of the player(s). While the offensive stats suggests that they are comparable, I know that Burrell is more patient as a hitter (see the huge disparity for total walks in their respective careers) than Luzinski. The “Bull” had less patience at the plate. He was never known for his astute knowledge of a pitcher’s repertoire and habits. And as a few mentioned, Burrell was more “clutch” in key situations. And fielding? NO comparison. Burrell had a stronger and more accurate arm. At least Burrell can catch what he can get to. I watched Luzinski played in LF and shuddered whenever a long flyball heads his way. He would lumbered and circled under it and the ball found his glove. :-)

    When Luzinski went to the White Sox in 1981 and played for 4 years, he was a designated hitter for all but two games duriing that period. The manager/coaches scouted and knew about the Bull’s reputation as a fielder.

  • Posts: 0 jkink

    Was at the game at Shea in 2007 when he homered off Wagner in the 9th. Remember screaming “You suck Wagner”. Such a sweet moment.

  • Posts: 0 James Kay

    Ed R. It’s very enriching to read your pro Burrell rants and other assorted insights. Entries like your comparative post with Luzinski makes this blog a worthwhile stop. The Bull had fan appeal that Burrell just didn’t have in spite of some of his late inning heroics. When Greg juiced one it was cosmically exciting. Advantage, Luzinski.

  • Posts: 0 Ed R.

    Not so much pro-Burrell as wanting to give credit where credit’s due. Trust me, my first Phillies experiences were in Connie Mack, so I saw plenty of the Bull. At his best, the Bull was pretty scary at the plate (and in the field too, truth be told) in a way that Burrell never matched. He also connected with the fans in a way Burrell didn’t. I also saw a picture of him wearing the White Sox uniform with the shorts, but that’s another story.

    As for Pat, I can’t begin to count the times I screamed in frustration as he watched the third strike go by with men on base.

    The thing about Pat, and it happened with Schmidt on a much higher level, is that people were always disappointed by him because they felt he could do better. I mean, if he could hit 30+ HR and 100 RBI while somehow mysteriously avoiding the ball almost entirely for about 2 1/2 months of any given season then he “should” be capable of truly monstrous numbers. These unrealised expectations were the burden he had to carry, unlike the Bull, who always looked like he was fulfilling his potential.

    He’s never been my favorite player, but once I figured out what he was by understanding his stats I was happy he was with us. I’m glad his Phillie career ended on a high note (like the Bull’s) and that he finally achieved some popularity.

    I don’t want to diss the Bull too much, but people forget that by the WS in 1980 he was almost an afterthought. His fielding was terrible (and this on one of the best defensive teams in the history of baseball, IMO), and Smith was so hot that the Phils couldn’t wait to get rid of the Bull to the Sox. I believe they received a cheese sandwich in return.

    Overall I probably prefer the Bull by just a teeny bit, but he’d better have Maddox (probably my favorite all-time Phillie) there to protect him in the field. I still wish they’d resigned Pat, though.

  • Posts: 0 James Kay

    Ed R., Good rebuttal. You’re a tough sale.

  • Posts: 0 Memphis

    deal and Griff, I actually wonder if Burrell’s double in Game 5 reached the seats that he’d possibly still be a Phillie. He would have been remembered as the guy that won the World Series (along with Hamels and Lidge). It would have been A LOT harder to let him go after that.

  • Posts: 0 andrew

    when i’m going to have some “alone time” I now say that I am patting the bat. Or I have to go pat the bat. I don;t think about him when I do it… not all the time.

  • Posts: 0 Evelyn

    saw him play double a when i was like 8 or something and ive loved him since

  • Posts: 0 Chris

    What a waste of talent.

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