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Last season Pat “The Bat” Burrell was the most booed man in Philadelphia. He developed a reputation as a choker, which is pretty much the worst thing you can be in Philly, outside of a quitter (“For who?” and “For what?” are questions every player better know the answer to).

The Bat takes walks.This season Burrell isn’t hitting much better. In fact, his power numbers are down. He’s only got one home run so far. Yet the boos have stopped, or at least slowed. Why?

If you look at Burrell’s batting average, it’s nothing special. After tonight’s game, he’s sitting at .264 — very pedestrian. But his on base percentage is another story. Burrell currently gets on base 43 percent of the time. Not too shabby. And tonight, against the Giants, The Bat walked four times in four at bats, so his OBP will be higher in the morning.

I’m not sure what happened to Burrell in the offseason to make him a more patient hitter. He did get engaged. Maybe that helped zen him out. And he started wearing contact lenses during spring training. Maybe that’s the ticket. Whatever the reason, he’s getting it done this season, without even swinging the bat.

Might be time to find Burrell a new nickname.

7 Responses to “Is Burrell better?”

  1. Paul Moro says:

    Fun idea, Coley, I’m not convinced yet that Burrell has in fact become a more patient hitter. Look at his pitches per plate appearance throughout his career – he’s averaged at least 4.03 every single season. This year, he’s at 4.13, which is actually below his career average. So I’m wondering if it might be something else.

    Believe or not, the Philadelphia offense is currently leading the league in walks. They’re eight walks ahead of Boston. And that doesn’t even include their hit-by-pitches. The Royals are leading that category by a landslide at the moment, but the Phils are tied for second with the Yankees.

    This has allowed Philadelphia to post the best OBP thus far in 2007 (although they always to tend to do well in this category). So it’s not just Burrell.

    Also, the Phillies have seen some terrible pitching performances from the opposition. There was that craptastic performance by Oliver Perez in April 11 when he managed to walk 7 batters in 2 2/3 of an inning. That’s seven walks during eight outs, and sure enough, Burrell was two of those 7 walks. Also, there was that John Patterson outing where he walked four in four innings (walked Burrell twice). And of course, there was Lincecum over the weekend walking Burrell three times.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not that Burrell has become patient. He’s always been that way. And although I can’t confirm this (maybe you can, Coley) but it seems that the Phillies have an organization-wide philosophy on patience at the plate. That, and some bad pitching performances, I think, are the culprits.

  2. Pat Burrell was always a patient hitter. He has always been near the the top of the league in pitches seen per plate appearence. He is also hitting .333 at home this year compared to hitting .200 on the road. He is also hitting .308 with RISP this season. He is still has his ugly stats however. 7-71 with 2 strike counts.

  3. Re: Phillies have an organization-wide philosophy on patience at the plate = ROFLOL x 10! I have never seen a team misuse so many at bats (example: hitter grounds out first pitch after Michael Bourn was inserted as a pinch runner at first base) Jimmy Rollins started the season taking pitches, but reverted to Willy Mays Hayes form. Howard couldn’t hit the side of a barn right now since pitcher won’t pitch to him. Don’t get me started on “No-hit” Nunez. Once Bobby Abreu left this team, all patience and strategy at the plate left with him.

  4. Paul Moro says:

    Joe, I have no idea what ROFLOL means, let alone what it means when multiplied ten times.

    There’s a difference between plate patience and “misuse” of at-bats. As of today, Philadelphia dropped to 3rd in MLB in team OBP (they were first yesterday). They currently have five guys (Howard, Burrell, Rollins, Victorino and Helms) in the top 75 for pitches per plate appearance, which is tied for the most players on the same team (with Washington and Boston). Their OBP was 6th in MLB in 2006 (even w/o Abreu for 40% of the season), 3rd in 2005, 5th in 2004… I mean, to me, it’s pretty clear that the organization has done very well in the recent years in terms of patience. Your eyes may see things differently on tv, but the stats are telling me to disagree with you.

  5. I’m not a stat-head so I’ll take your word Paul.. Just curious if there is a per-game variance provided with OBP? (Since this team seems to enjoy feast or famine games.) Also where do they rank in OBP – batting average (I guess this would be their walk rate.)

  6. I don’t think you can walk four times in four at-bats. Technically, if you walk it is counted as a “plate appearance” instead of as an “AB.” Sorry to nitpick.

  7. Coley Ward says:

    VK, you must be a real hit with the ladies.

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