Pat Burrell will sign a one-day contract and retire as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, the team announced. Burrell was the former number one overall draft pick of the team back in 1998 and played nine seasons for the Phillies, helping bring a World Series championship to the city in 2008.
Burrell played for the Tampa Bay Rays for two seasons, and then helped the San Francisco Giants win a World Series in 2010. He finished his career with a .253 career batting average, 292 home runs, and 976 RBIs, 251 of those home runs with the Phillies – fourth-most in franchise history.
Burrell was drafted first overall by the Phillies in the 1998 draft after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Miami, where he won the Golden Spikes award as the best player in college baseball in 1997. Burrell tore up the minor leagues for the Phillies, earning a rating as the second best prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to 2000.
He made his MLB debut in ’00, going 2-for-5 with a triple in his first game in a 9-7 win over Houston, a game in which the Phillies came back from a 7-0 deficit to win, rocking Billy Wagner in the ninth inning. Burrell hit .260/.359/.463 that year with 18 home runs and 79 RBIs in 474 plate appearances, and was especially effective with the bases loaded: Burrell was an unbelievable 8-for-11 with two grand slams, 20 RBIs, and a .727/.769/1.455 line that included a 2.224 OPS in 13 plate appearances.
Burrell hit .258 with 27 home runs in 2001 and had probably his best year in 2002, hitting .282 with 37 home runs and 116 RBIs. He bottomed out in 2003, seeing his batting average fall to .209 in 522 at-bats. It was at that point that the boos started to reign around Burrell, and despite a hefty amount of walks, a lot of power, and a great attitude, Burrell became a punching bag for Phillies fans for his remaining seasons.
He certainly deserved boos for his miserable ’03 season, one in which he was hitting .196 as late as August 8. Burrell batted .175 in May that year, .190 in June, and .195 in July, and he batted just .173 in high leverage situations. Burrell showed a lot of class though, never complaining about the boos, and putting together a career that’s probably a little better than people realize.
He rebounded to hit .257 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs in 2004, still a disappointing year, but then he hit .281 with 32 home runs and 117 RBIs in 2005, finishing as high as seventh in the MVP voting. Burrell still struck out 160 times that year, he had absolutely no speed, and he was poor defensively, and he actually never even made an All-Star team in his whole career.
He played a strong role in the Phillies’ World Series title run in 2008, hitting 33 home runs with 86 RBIs and 102 walks that season. He went just 1-for-14 in the World Series (although he did walk five times), ending his career in Philly with a double off the top of the left center field wall.
Burrell signed with the Rays and played a limited role for ’09 and ’10 before joining the Giants and hitting 18 home runs in half a season to help them win a World Series. He had another miserable World Series and finished his Fall Classic career with a 1-for-27 line in the World Series but two rings.
Burrell was never really able to recover from the foot injury he suffered in 2011 with the Giants, and retired at just 35 years old. He made his mark in Philly as a Met killer, hitting 42 home runs against them, including four in a four-game series sweep in 2007 that helped the Phillies win their first NL East crown in 14 seasons.
He will officially be throwing out the first pitch for the Phillies against the Boston Red Sox on May 19, and he will be honored prior to the game.