Blog Entry

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

Posted on: January 30, 2012 2:50 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 4:45 pm

Pat Burrell had a better career than you think. In fact, "Pat the Bat" had a better career than the vast majority of the other No. 1 overall draft picks, maybe 75 percent of the overall No. 1s, or maybe even more than that.

Of the first 34 overall No. 1s, from Rick Monday in 1965 by the A's to Burrell in 1998 by the Phillies, only five clearly had a better career than Burrell. That would be Ken Griffey Jr. (1987, Mariners), Alex Rodriguez (1993, Mariners), Chipper Jones (1990, Braves), Harold Baines (1977, White Sox) and Darryl Strawberry (1980, Mets). That's three out of 34 with Hall of Fame resumes, one with an extremely long and productive career and a fifth who probably should have been going to Cooperstown. Burrell falls into the next group of nine who had very nice careers but far short of great. But he's probably at or near the top of that group, so while he never became a superstar or even made an All-Star team, he was a solid first selection, certainly a lot more solid than most top picks.

The other eight No. 1 overalls I'd put into that good-but-not-great category would be Jeff Burroughs (1969, Senators), Bob Horner (1978, Braves), B.J. Surhoff (1985, Brewers), Andy Benes (1988, Padres), Phil Nevin (1992, Astros), Tim Belcher (1983, Twins), Shawon Dunston (1982, Cubs) and Mike Moore (1981, Mariners). I'd rank Burrell seventh overall, just behind Monday at No. 6 but ahead of the others in this group -- though, if someone wants to reorder the players within that group I wouldn't necessarily quibble. Burrell could be eighth, ninth or 10th, but he's clearly in the top third, at the very worst.

Shawon Dunston has a pretty good case to be at or near the top of this second group, too, with 150 home runs and an all-time shortstop arm in a 20-year career, but I'd put him just below Burrell. Benes has really solid stats, with a 155-139 record and 3.97 ERA, but he didn't have as much impact as Burrell. Burroughs and Horner has similar careers to each other, with some high highs (an MVP in Burroughs' case) but either not quite as much length or consistency. Surhoff was versatile and a high average hitter (.282) but he's more famous for having been picked ahead of Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin and Will Clark in that stellar '85 draft.

Burrell, who has confirmed will retire (Tim Dierkes of @mlbtraderumors first reported the news), hit 292 home runs, twice finished in the top 14 in MVP voting and was a key contributor on two World Series winning teams, the 2008 Phillies and 2010 Giants (although the '10 World Series wasn't his finest hour). Burrell was a prodigious and consistent power hitter for the Phillies, and he had a very respectable .834 OPS for his career.

It's amazing how many of the overall No. 1 picks, especially the early ones, simply did not deliver. Danny Goodwin, a marginal major leaguer, was twice a No. 1 pick overall pick. David Clyde was the biggest-hyped high school pitcher maybe ever. Mike Ivie never became the big slugger some figured he might be. Tim Foli was a notable scrapper, but at some point , big-league scouts figured it wasn't worth taking a scrapper No. 1 overall.

Only two of the 34 No. 1s overall never played in the big leagues, Steve Chilcott (1966, Mets) and Brien Taylor (1991, Yankees). Chilcott was an incredible miscalculation, and was a mistake that is illuminated by the man picked right behind him, Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. Taylor never regained his 99-mph fastball or any of his early promise after injuring his left shoulder defending his brother in a bar fight after he signed a record $1.55-million contract after a negotiation depicted by "60 Minutes'' and a couple impressive minor-league seasons. Shawn Abner, Matt Anderson and Al Chambers were busts in their own right.

Counting the ignominious New York picks Chilcott and Taylor, 19 No. 1 overall picks from '65 to '98 clearly had inferior careers to Burrell's (at least in my mind). And while that may say something about the crapshoot aspect of the amateur draft, some bad early picks before scouting improved or something else entirely, Burrell can't be considered any sort of disappointment, no matter how you measure it.
Category: MLB

Since: Dec 2, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2012 9:41 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

surprised he never made an all-star team.
guy was a pretty solid power-hitter for alotta years (except '03 and '09).
nice career if you ask me.  (except for his fielding issues & 2010 world series embarrassment, lol)
walked limped away after receiving 70 million & 2 rings.  not bad.

Since: Feb 1, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2012 9:16 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

The "Bat" was always one of my favorite Phils! Thanks for the memories Pat!

Since: Oct 7, 2006
Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:44 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

First off, I am a die hard Phillies fan. Keep that in mind please.

Pat had his moments, and thats about as far as I am willing to go. Taking in consideration the things I do not fault him for that the Phillies looked past and still took him at the top spot such as his lack of speed that effected him both offensively and defensively. I still feel Pat was a disappointment, during the end of his term in Philly he was able to evolve into a leader and that showed, and it showed even more after he left Philly and that wasnt replaced. When I think of what a number one over all pick should be, I dont think it should serve as support or insurance to a hitter above him in the lineup. That is what Pat did best, force people to pitch to someone infront of him. Pats numbers suffered because people were always trying to alter his approach. But bottom line is still there, 292 homers and less than 1000 rbi with a .253 average is not what you pay for in the top spot. I appreciate Pat and I am glad he won two rings but I feel he fell short. 

Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:33 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

Pat the Bat could also flash some leather in his prime.  I took my father to see the Phils back in 2004, and Pat made an amazing diving catch in LF in the corner.  The fans went nuts and gave him another ovation when he came up to the plate in the bottom of the inning.  He was a great Phillie, and I look forward to the day when we add him to the Wall behind the bullpen at the Bank.  Godspeed Pat!

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 30, 2012 7:46 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

One player who was drafted #1 and not mentioned in this article, which surprises me a little, is Floyd Bannister. He was just as good as Belcher and Moore, same WAR and ERA, similar record and he pitched for 15 years. Not a great pitcher but surely as good as either Belcher or Moore.

Since: Dec 27, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2012 7:27 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

Pat, you will be missed! You were a hitter that I did not want to see hitting when the Giants played the Phillies. I was very happy when they acquired you in 2010. Your 18 HR and 51 RBIs help carry the team to the NL West title. Thank you for an enjoyable career. I wish you the all the best in whatever you decide to do, I hope you coach in the bigs soon.

Since: Jan 22, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2012 6:45 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

Tough out in high school. He also pitched and was a catcher. Santa Cruz Colt league Reds, my buddies were on his team and they took it all. Party animal!

Since: May 15, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2012 5:20 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

I wonder what his average and home run totals would be if you took away the games versus the Mets. That dude killed us when he was with the Phillies.

Since: Mar 4, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2012 5:07 pm

Retiring Burrell stacks up well vs. other No. 1s

us true Phiilies phans love Pat Burrell and we all know the turning point in his career was when he switched his entrance music from "Trailer Park Girls"

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