If you didn’t already know, “Pat the-Bat” has cracked the hall of fame ballot for this year’s voting.
Before we decide whether Burrell is hall-worthy (this one isn’t that hard), let’s remember what Burrell gave us in pinstripes.
In 1997, coming off a 68-94 season and managed by Terry Francona, the Phillies landed the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 amateur draft. They selected Burrell as a cornerstone piece to turn the franchise around.
Highly touted, Burrell came onto the scene with a strong rookie season in 2000. In his May 24, 2000, major league debut, Burrell went 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBI en route to Phils win in Houston. He finished the year fourth in Rookie of the Year voting with a slash line of .260/.359/.463, adding 18 home runs, 79 RBI, and 27 doubles in 111 games.
Burrell really showcased his talents in his third season as a Phillie, 2002. The right-hander blasted a career-best 37 home runs and drove in 117. He never failed to reach 20 home runs in a season while in Philadelphia, and was a consistent force in the middle of the lineup, driving in at least 79 runs in every season but one.
Once Burrell finally had some players around him (for example, the emergence of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard in the mid-2000s) his impact was at its highest. From 2005-08, he hit 124 home runs and drove in 395. Perhaps more impressively, Burrell was a patient hitter and took at least 98 walks in each of his final four seasons as a Phillie. “The Bat” was able to do damage because he finally had some pieces around him, but it also worked the other way around: Both Utley and Howard, out of the three and four holes, had a dangerous No. 5 that could find his way on base with regularity.
Of course, we’ll remember Burrell’s 2008 playoff heroics. In Game 4 against the Brewers in the NLDS, Burrell went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI. Burrell’s efforts propelled the Phils into the NLCS for the first time since 1993.
Fast forward to the very next game: Game 1 against the Dodgers, the Phils offense was struggling against sinkerballer Derek Lowe, who held a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth. That 2-0 was no more when Utley went deep for a two-run homer, tying the game at two. But when Burrell came to the plate two batters later, he gave the Phils the lead with a clutch solo shot that landed in the first row in left. The Phils went on to win the game and the series in convincing fashion.
Burrell had a quiet World Series except for one hit, which set up the game-winning run that would help secure the Phillies’ first championship since 1980. In the second half of Game 5, Burrell tattooed a J.P. Howell curveball that was about three feet from leaving the park. Burrell settled for a double, and the Phillies soon clinched the 2008 World Series.
Burrell wasn’t quite the same once he left Philadelphia, finishing his career over three seasons with Tampa Bay and San Francisco. With a flourish in 2010, he helped the Giants win his second world championship, then fit into a bench role later in 2011. Because of chronic foot problems, Burrell called it a career after the 2011 season, signing an honorary one-day contract with the Phils to officially retire in red and white.
Hall of fame case
Okay, Burrell doesn’t have enough to be enshrined as baseball immortality. There’s no way he gets the 75 percent of the vote necessary to be inducted in Cooperstown. It’s possible he won’t get the 10 percent necessary to get another shot on the ballot.
But here are Burrell’s career totals:
- Games: 1,640
- Plate Appearances: 6,520
- Average: .253
- On-Base Percentage: .361
- Slugging Percentage: .472
- Home Runs: 292
- Runs Batted In: 976
- Runs: 767
- Hits: 1,393
- Doubles: 299
- Triples: 16
Again, not close enough. He had a good but short prime (.262/.386/.504, 31 HR, 99 RBI average from 2005-08), but that alone isn’t quite hall-worthy.
No, Pat Burrell is not a hall of famer. But do you know what? “Pat the Bat” will always be in Phillies baseball immortality, as his plaque remains fixed in Ashburn Alley (Wall of Fame 2015).
I think that’s good enough for us.