The Curse of Paul Sorrento

When the Rays signed Pat Burrell, I made an ill-fated comparison to Paul Sorrento. Reflecting on that moment, I’m in utter regret every time I bring myself to look at this graph:

For those unfamiliar with Sorrento’s place in Rays history, he was signed prior to 1998 to be the team’s first big-time DH. From 1995-1997 (his 29-31 year-old seasons) Sorrento hit .268/.352/.511 in 1,433 plate appearances between the Indians and Mariners. Over his next two seasons with the Rays, he totaled 843 plate appearances, hit only 28 homeruns, and his line fell to .229/.329/.403. Suffice to say, this was not what the Rays had in mind when they signed him.

Burrell is coming off his 29-31 year-old seasons in which he hit .254/.385/.504 in 1,810 plate appearances for the Phillies. Thus far this season, Burrell is hitting .250/.349/.315. A stiff neck has sidelined Burrell at least three times this season and leaves questions about whether the stiff neck is really a bulging disk.

Pitchers are taking a more aggressive approach to Burrell this season. Throwing him 60% first pitch strikes and quite a few more curveballs than normal. As a result, Burrell is making more contact than ever before, but the ball has only left the playing field once. A few close calls have resulted in long singles thanks to Burrell’s below average foot speed. His speed score of 1.6 almost seems generous.

Moving forward, it seems asinine in expecting Burrell’s HR/FB% to remain at 2.5%. Over the last three seasons that number has been 18.1%, 16.2%, and 18%, so we should be looking at a few handfuls of Burrell homeruns from here on out. That is unless Burrell misses even more time with whatever it is that ails his neck.

Hopefully it’s not Paul Sorrento.

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Burrell is very streaky. Unless he does have a serious injury, he probably has a few hot streaks left in him. Even in his hideously bad 03 season, he had moments of brilliance (specifically every time Thome was intentionally walked; Burrell took it personally)

I wouldn’t bet a dollar on him hitting more than 25 HR on the season, but he might have a month where he goes insane. The ZiPS projection looks about right.

How many close calls has Burrell had this year? I haven’t seen him play.