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  1. great article

    Comment by st — January 31, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

  2. He’s only a bust in the sense that he had his career year at Age 25 instead of 28 or 29. Had he not put up that fantastic year, the expectations going forward would have been far lower and he wouldn’t have gotten that huge extension the Phillies gave him at the time. As a #1 pick, he cant be considered a bust because he made it to the Show and had a fairly long if not great career. If you make the show and play that long, you cant be a bust.

    Comment by NEPP — January 31, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

  3. He’s no Delmon Young, that’s for sure.

    Comment by Marty — January 31, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

  4. This is an interesting article with excellent analysis. Well done.

    (Side note: as a Mets fan, I can say that it sure feels like Pat the Bat’s career fWAR came mostly at the Mets expense.)

    Comment by BurleighGrimes — January 31, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

  5. He’s a Hall of Famer……… in the Deadspin HOF.

    Comment by West — January 31, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

  6. The jury is still out on Delmon Young Defensive metrics be dammed

    Comment by adohaj — January 31, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  7. Will M’s fans be pleased if Dustin Ackley matches Pat Burrell’s career? Probably not ecstatic, even though he’s only a #2. Of course, the M’s have 2 of the 3 no-doubt HOFers on the list, so the fans may not be used to reasonable expectations…

    Comment by bookbook — January 31, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  8. can you believe it? can you believe that you’re writing an article about PAT FREAKING BURRELL? *mimes swinging bat*

    Comment by juan pierres mustache — January 31, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

  9. Is it just me or does that end up as an almost perfect bell curve, with bust on one end and HOF on the other?

    Comment by olethros — January 31, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  10. Dave Roberts…?

    Comment by D4P — January 31, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

  11. I think it’s unfair to compare Burrell to draft picks from other years. If you look at the guys picked in the first round in 1998 (I’m not going through every round because if every team passed on a guy the Phillies shouldn’t be held accountable for missing on them), the only position player that was better than Burrell is J.D. Drew (Pena could surpass him this season in terms of total WAR) and only two pitchers Weaver and Mulder, approximated his value. Considering how long it took for Pena to develop (he never really helped the Indians) and the volatility of pitchers, even in retrospect Burrell was the 2nd best player taken in the first round.

    Comment by Preston — January 31, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  12. Agreed. I’m not sure judging a player by his draft position is sound. A player can’t control where he is drafted. If a draft is extremely talent-rich, a better prospect might go later. Likewise, in a weaker draft a lesser prospect might be propelled to the top.

    If you were to compare the top pick against the next three or four hitters picked, you could more accurately gauge the player’s career.

    Comment by ussdavidprice — January 31, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  13. Add up the WAR.

    Comment by John — January 31, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  14. Exactly; Corey Patterson, J.D. Drew, Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, Sean Burroughs and Carlos Pena. Not an inspiring list, and Pat Burrell looks pretty good coming out of that group. Compare him to A-Rod, Griffey and Chipper and he doesn’t look so good.

    Comment by Preston — January 31, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

  15. So Pat the Bat is not a bust.

    But where does one draw the bust line?

    Comment by Brian — January 31, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  16. No poll?

    It seems like anytime a post’s title is a question that can be answered “yes” or “no,” a poll should be included.

    Comment by TK — January 31, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

  17. No it’s not Delmon Young sucks.

    Comment by Louis — January 31, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

  18. Not that one. Pitcher for the Padres in the 70s.

    Comment by Liam — January 31, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

  19. As low as possible.

    Comment by olethros — January 31, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  20. Are you kidding? Pat Burrell’s career was a very good one.

    This whole ‘piece’ is ridiculous.

    Comment by ack attack — January 31, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  21. Do it yourself.


    Comment by Steve — January 31, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  22. He’s not even close to a bust. Use your brain.

    Comment by ack attack — January 31, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

  23. When I read articles like these I always have more questions pop up than answers.

    My first inquisitive response is to wonder what the #2 overall picks look like within the same system/methods?

    In other words, do we unreasonably make more out of being the #1 overall pick than we should. It might be a really big deal, it might not really make any more difference than being the #6 overall pick.

    Then I wonder how the same lists look if we repeat the process with the NFL, NBA, and NHL. I wonder how this compares because of the 4 baseball is generally rated as the most skill dependent, wheras the NFL and NBA are more ability dependent which makes them easier to scout. The NHL is generally rated as the perfect blend of natural ability and “skill”. So, I would expect the #1 picks in the NFL and NBA to be greater than the field to a larger degree than MLB and NHL, and am curious as to whether it plays out like that or not. Also the NFL and NBA do not have minor leagues, so their #1 picks are going straight to the “Show”, wheras the #1 picks for MLB and NHL are going to the low minors like everyone else and start out the grinjd to MLB/NHL. In other words, more things can go wrong or be exposed to prevent them from even making it to the highest level.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 31, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  24. I don’t know about the article, but Burrell certainly busted plenty in his day.

    Comment by Jack — January 31, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

  25. Sigh

    Comment by Nellyjay — January 31, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  26. It takes a lot of skill to have 292 career HRs and never make an all-star game. Other than Tim Salmon, no other player has done that.

    Also, he plowed a lot of co-eds in Philly…so kudos to Pat.

    Comment by NEPP — January 31, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

  27. Or at least the Met version of Billy Wagner.

    Comment by LTG — January 31, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  28. Also, the Phillies shouldn’t be held accountable for not drafting Drew a second time, since the first time he would only play for them if he got a ridiculous amount of money. So, of the position players they could have taken, the Phillies got the best one.

    Comment by LTG — January 31, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  29. False. The article excluded pitchers. This is the Dave Roberts that is meant:

    Comment by LTG — January 31, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  30. And it seems that you didn’t understand it.

    Comment by cwendt — January 31, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  31. Looking at career WAR isn’t analysis.

    Comment by John — January 31, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  32. And he’s “The Machine”

    Comment by West — January 31, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

  33. a list that I would really like to see is “greatest players never to be selected for the all-star game.” eric karros is one that comes to mind.

    Comment by ben — January 31, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  34. indeed. the bat is legendary around philly.

    Comment by cable fixer — January 31, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  35. what i took away from this article was that it’s easier to expect great things from a position player at #1 than a pitcher.

    Comment by cable fixer — January 31, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

  36. Yeah, even without considering defense, Delmon is still not very good at all. :(

    Comment by yup — January 31, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

  37. You overlooked C.C. Sabathia, who was the 20th overall pick in the same draft.

    Comment by Greg — January 31, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  38. The Phillies had already gone the JD Drew route the year before.

    I’m not sure when Pena played for the Indians. Maybe you meant Tigers? Or Athletics? Or Rangers? Or even the Red Sox perhaps?

    And you also forgot to mention CC Sabathia as a pitcher in that class, the most valuable player taken in the first round of the 98 draft.

    Comment by Jake — January 31, 2012 @ 5:32 pm


    Comment by Antonio Bananas — January 31, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

  40. So maybe what we should do is look at Pat’s career vs others chosen in say the top 10 vs the other number 1 picks vs the other top 10 picks in those drafts and see how much better/worse he is.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — January 31, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

  41. Plus the MLB draft isn’t anywhere near as homogenus (or is it homogeneous?) as the NFL or NBA drafts. In MLB you can go anywhere from basically a great athlete outfielder at 18 to a polished low BB 21 year old college pitcher. There are a lot of different “types” of players MLB teams have to chose from. Raw athleticism vs polish, etc. Not only that but first rounders in the NBA and NFL generally go straight to the team. In baseball it takes years to develop most prospects even on bad teams.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — January 31, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

  42. Of the co-eds I’ve seen from Philly and their philthy mouths, he can take them. I’ve never heard “ladies” speak the way women from your city speak. Then again, maybe I’m just too much of a midwestern guy.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — January 31, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  43. “Yesterday, Pat “The Bat” Burrell retired, seeing his playing days end due to a combination of chronic foot problems and a lessening need for a bat-only player who flopped in his one audition as a DH.”

    “Essentially, we can acknowledge that there’s a roughly 20% chance that any top pick will just become a bust due to injury or failure to develop, but if we assume a top pick stays healthy and follows something resembling a normal development path to get to the Majors, what should we then expect from them?”

    Considering that, at least in part, injuries led to his retirement and his last three years were three of his worst despite not being all that old, isn’t it unfair to not factor that into the analysis?

    Comment by miffleball — January 31, 2012 @ 7:00 pm

  44. Is anyone else surprised that Dunston only accumulated 8.9 WAR? I know that he had his fielding issues mid-career, but wasn’t he decent with the glove when he first arrived? Maybe it’s just because that occurred pre-advanced metrics. But I thought that he had a reputation as a decent defensive SS. At the very least, when he first came up he had one of the strongest throwing arms that I’d ever seen by an infielder (albeit not always the most accurate).

    Comment by walt526 — January 31, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

  45. Sorry I posted that pretty quickly. Obviously Sabathia was the best guy taken in the 1st round, if the list had made the font proportional to actual size I wouldn’t have missed his name, but I think my point is still valid, High School pitching prospects come with a lot more risk than a college hitter so the two guys shouldn’t really be compared. And I meant Tigers not Indians for Pena, he posted less than 3.5 WAR in five seasons with Detroit, so even though he’s had a good career he didn’t really give any of that return to the team that drafted him.

    Comment by Preston — January 31, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

  46. I’m sure they weren’t just coeds, he’d F an ant hill if he could.

    Comment by West — January 31, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  47. Yes, I was.

    Comment by LTG — February 1, 2012 @ 12:05 am

  48. I can’t tell which of these comments is more sexist. Treating women as objects of sexual conquest, on the one hand. On the other, insisting that women adhere to a standard of conduct different from men. Hmmmm…. I’m going to go with objects of sexual conquest, but it was a tough decision. Way to stay on the topic of baseball and raise the level of conversation, guys.

    Comment by LTG — February 1, 2012 @ 12:08 am

  49. It’s only unfair if there is reason to think it would change the result of the analysis. It wouldn’t (this is the default since the current analysis passes the smell test). Also, 2010 was his 3rd best season by fWAR. Criticize WAR for not being the final word on value, but it isn’t so far off that a player’s 3rd best season could also be one of his worst seasons in a 12 year career.

    Comment by LTG — February 1, 2012 @ 12:15 am

  50. First off, #1 picks in the NHL don’t work like that. The majority of the time they will start off in the NHL the year they were drafted, at least in the time of greater expansion. So on the whole, they actually most likely have the opportunity to have longer careers than other picks that do have to spend some time in the minors.

    As for running the numbers, the only thing I could think to do was to go to Hockey Reference and use their Point Shares stat. I think they are similar to win shares in that they attempt to calculate the number of points in the standings each player contributes to their team each year. I’m not sure exactly how to compare it to WAR, but I know that point shares don’t go into negative numbers. Hockey is also (obviously) structured a lot different than baseball, so you don’t have ~13 players on each team with equal opportunity for playing time.

    So to attempt to draw a comparison between this list and a similar NHL list, I can note that 141 players in the NHL all time have compiled 100 or more career point shares. Trying to come up with a similar number for fWAR is difficult because there are so many pitchers for whom fangraphs cannot compile WAR. So if we look at Baseball Reference WAR, there have been 141 players who have compiled 61.8 WAR or more. If you wanted to transfer that over to fWAR, just to throw something out I’d say it would be between 65-70 fWAR.

    With that, I can give some stats from the NHL list. For the drafts between 1963 and 2008, the median point shares for all players is 50.65. There are 11 players on the list who have over 100 shares, as well as at least 5 more recent players who have a very good shot at 100. There are 3 players from the early years of the draft who never got into the NHL. If we throw them out the median becomes 57.1.

    Using the article’s matrix, base on my own opinion of the stats:

    Superstar, long career, HOFer: 24%
    Superstar, longevity issues: 17%
    Nice player, long career: 24%
    Nice player, longevity issues: 11%
    Useful role player: 17%
    Bust: 7%

    So it looks like there is a much greater chance of getting a really good player drafting first overall in the NHL than in MLB. But the same could be said just looking at the names on both lists if you follow both sports. But it’s always nice to have a somewhat statistical analysis of things.

    Comment by Schide — February 1, 2012 @ 2:43 am

  51. Yes

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — February 1, 2012 @ 3:02 am

  52. Well, yeah. It should be a bell curve. The more years we look at it the closer it will be to one. It shows that Burrell wasn’t an outlier.

    Comment by Bill — February 1, 2012 @ 9:22 am

  53. Article excludes pitchers.

    Comment by Bill — February 1, 2012 @ 9:24 am

  54. If you expand the analysis to top ten picks in all the drafts you can see that Burrell was a great success in comparison.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — February 1, 2012 @ 10:10 am

  55. And if you expand it to top 100 picks he was a REALLY great success! But, unfortunately, I think the point was that there’s an unusually high amount of expectation on #1 picks that just isn’t there for a #2-#10.

    Comment by ben — February 1, 2012 @ 11:38 am

  56. One thing that is interesting about Burrell is that the Philly fans never turned on him. After signing that big contract after his career year, he really tanked in ’03, yet the boos never came.

    This despite him never really being a fan favorite. Not sure why it was, but that kind of makes him unique in Philly.

    Comment by swyck — February 1, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  57. imo, the only way he is a bust is if you do measure him against purely the expectations of a #1. That being, him solely able to resurrect a franchise, be the face of it, make it easier for the team to surround him with more talent (in ways other than via money). Did he live up to those expectations? no. Did he measure up to the few that were superstars at #1? again, no. But, as Mike Piazza shows, superstars can come from anywhere.

    Is Pat a bust in my opinion. No. Simply because he did have a long, quite productive career. Not everybody can say that.

    Comment by Cidron — February 1, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  58. I wonder if next year this time you could write pretty much the same epitaph on another horrible-fielding big-batted left fielder who was dismal as a DH drafted 49 picks later.

    Comment by Jason — February 2, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  59. True, but often a #1 pick is based on what a team wants to pay, example is Bush picked by San Diego. There were better players in that draft, but San Diego didn’t want to pay them.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — February 2, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

  60. This is false. I witnessed plenty of booing, both in person and on TV. I might even have booed him a few times. He’s only unique in that despite being considered a let down he will always be fondly remembered for that double in game 7.

    Comment by LTG — February 2, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

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