Opinion

Yay or Nay: Burrell on the Wall of Fame?

High five to Burrell for being named a Phillies’ Wall of Famer today.

Pat Burrell was announced as the 2015 inductee on to the Phillies’ Wall of Fame earlier today. The selection sparked debate on the internet and on the airways, as folks argued the whys and why nots of Burrell being added to the Wall.

Here are some of the arguments – feel free to jump in the discussion.

The case for:

After being selected as the number one overall pick in 1998 out of the University of Miami, Burrell shot through the ranks of the minor leagues and reached Philadelphia in 2000, playing 111 games between first base and left field, hitting 18 homers while hitting .260. Burrell was one of the first genuine positional prospects to come through the Phillies’ system since Julio Franco and Ryne Sandberg, a no-doubt-about it future Major Leaguer to be paired with the franchise’s last can’t-miss prospect turned Rookie of the Year, Scott Rolen.

For those into counting stats, Burrell’s case is a slam dunk. Burrell’s power would lead to 251 homers in a Phillies’ uniform, good enough for fourth on the club’s all-time leaderboard and second among left fielders behind Del Ennis. Burrell is tied for 14th in club history in doubles with fellow left fielder Greg Luzinski while ranking slightly ahead of the Bull in RBI and runs.

For those into memorable moments, Burrell has an equally strong case. Burrell memorably hit two homers in the fourth and deciding game of the Phillies 2008 NLDS match-up with the Brewers and led off the re-started Game 5 of the 2008 World Series with a rain-dampened double. For his efforts, Burrell left Philadelphia a World Series hero and was the Grand Marshall of the World Series parade.

The case against: 

Using FanGraphs’ version of WAR, Burrell ranks as the 41st most valuable position player in Phillies’ history, wedged in between Placido Polanco and Larry Bowa. More importantly, Burrell is listed far below Ennis and Luzinski on the leaderboard despite playing nearly the same amount of games and seeing a similar amount of plate appearances to Luzinski.

Burrell had the third-most strikeouts in club history with the sixth-highest strikeout rate, joining a club that boasts Todd Pratt, John Mayberry Jr., and Pancho Herrera as equals. With high expectations from draft day 1998, Burrell struggled to find consistency after what looked like a breakout 2002 (.282/.376/.544  with 37 homers) and never made an All-Star team.

Verdict: Burrell is easily a Wall of Famer

Burrell is unfairly judged by the expectations that were placed on him shortly after being selected as the number one pick in the 1998 draft. Sure, Burrell never became an All-Star but likely should have been at least once (2002, 2005 come to mind) and he was one of the faces of the club that went from mediocrity to World Series winners.

Judging by the Wall of Fame’s recent selections, memorability is often times more important than performance. So whether it was the way Burrell put his hand out to call time, stuck his butt out while he struck out looking on a curve ball, the long follow through on his swing, or this photo, Burrell is undoubtedly a Phillies’ Wall of Famer.

What are your thoughts?

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