“Pat the Bat Goes Splat” was the alternative headline, but with widespread rumors that he is, in fact, Brian Wilson’s neighbor, “The Machine“, I thought it best to keep it simple and spare the little baby ears of some of the easily offended. But the bottom line is that, as a fantasy commodity, Pat Burrell is rapidly losing value….as he should be.
I’ve gone back and forth with numerous Giants fans over the use of the 34 year old Burrell this season and have often found myself having debates that are the equivalent of banging my head against a brick wall. The problem with talking to a World Series starved fan that has just had his first taste of success is that rational thought sometimes just goes out the window. While yes, his career OBP sits at .361 and his current is .351, the rest of the numbers and his overall performance this year indicate that he is nothing more than a pinch-hitting, right-handed bat off the bench. His days of being a productive starter are behind him and his use as anything more than a potential fill-in for your fantasy roster are gone as well.
Let’s just get the pro-Pat OBP argument out of the way. We can all agree that his career and current OBP are at a level that any manager and fantasy owner would love. However, while in the past it was a combination of base hits, home runs and walks, today it is more of an inflated number resulting from a 14 BB% and a few late game home runs in contests already long decided. He actually had one that tied the game, but miscues in the outfield caused by his presence in the lineup quickly erased that.
But just because you can get on base, doesn’t necessarily mean you are still being productive for your team. Sure, you have no control what the hitters behind you do at the plate, but Burrell will always be more of a base-clogger than a base runner. He is no threat to steal, and when he draws a walk, it almost always takes a minimum of two base hits to get him around to score. Those cement clown shoes that he’s got on his feet probably make running a difficult task. He’s been on base 38 times this season and has come around to score on just 11 occasions. Again, I know he can’t control what the guys behind him do, but it’s not like he can aid the team in manufacturing a run either.
Beyond the OBP, again, Burrell has very little to offer. If we were talking about real baseball, I’d certainly go off on his defensive shortcomings, but since this is the fantasy section, I’ll leave it to his dwindling offensive efforts. Where to begin…?
Should we talk about the 33.3 K%? The diminished 72.7 Contact %? How about the increased 10.5 SwStr %? The fact that he hasn’t gone deep since April 18th do anything for you? I’ve also been looking all over for a cumulative total for men left on base this year, but perhaps the minions of The Machine are keeping that secret somehow.
Obviously, manager Bruce Bochy has finally came to grips with the fact that starting Burrell in left field is no longer a productive option for the team. He hasn’t written him into the lineup card since May 8th and the Giants are doing just fine, having won three of their last four. They are going with a more defensive minded outfield, and while offensively, they are no where near juggernaut status, they are starting to adopt more of a hit and run/speed based way to manufacture runs and win games. They won the World Series with great starting pitching and sound defense, and that is exactly how they should proceed when defending their title.
And I’d be hard-pressed to see much of a change moving forward. Burrell should get the occasional start based on pitching matchups, but his days as a full time starter are likely behind him…atleast with the Giants. Not only does the team have a glut of outfielders that have proven to be more reliable and well-rounded at this point, but reports of prospect Brandon Belt playing the outfield in Triple-A means that the club wants him back up and they are not planning on moving Aubrey Huff from first base again.
Plan your fantasy strategy accordingly, but consider Burrell as a once productive racehorse put out to stud. Feel free to leave him on the bench, and in some cases, you can drop him outright.