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Pat Burrell To The Rays
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
January 6, 2009

The Rays inked the 32-year old Pat Burrell to a two year, 16 million-dollar deal. Burrell is a good hitter, who will add offensive depth to the Rays. It is being reported that he will be a full-time DH, instead of butchering balls in LF. Moving from the outfield to DH does in fact hurt his value despite his being worth -39.5 defensive runs according to Ultimate Zone Rating over the past four seasons.

Heading into the off-season, I highly doubt that Burrell and many fans/writers thought that he would be getting only 8 million dollars per year. Especially coming fresh off a 6-year, 50 million dollar contract and earning 14 million dollars this past season. That comes out to a 43% pay cut. Itís possible that the poor economy is hitting baseball hard, or that GMs are properly evaluating the value of defense and want to stay away from good-hitting very-bad-fielding type players. Whatever the case may be, I wouldnít be surprised if Burrell is scratching his head somewhere wondering why he isnít making nearly as much as he made last season.

Notwithstanding, this is a very good move for the Rays, so props to Andrew Freidman and his crew. If there was any chink in the Raysí armor last year, it was lack of offense, particularly power.  Burrell definitely provides that with patience to boot. This move doesnít turn them into the 1927 Yankees, but it still adds pop to their lineup.

Burrell has been consistent from year to year, despite being inconsistent while each individual season ran its course. From 2005 to 2008, his offensive win values have been 2.4, 1.7, 2.3, and 2.0.  Thatís an average of 2.2 offensive wins per year. Factoring in his aging and moving from an offensive park to a neutral one, lets make a very uneducated guess and say his stick will be worth about 2 wins.

Burrell will not be fielding much next season, so there is no defense to examine, but he does take a hit due to adjusting for position. By making an adjustment of -17.5 runs for DHing. That almost knocks out all of his offensive value. But it is better to evaluate players against replacement level players rather than against average players. The reason for this is because when a player gets injured, his replacement wonít be an average player. Heíll be, well, an average replacement player. Assume that on average, a replacement player is worth -20 runs (That is if he accumulates 600 PA). To get a playerís worth over a replacement playerís, you take those twenty runs, divide by 600 and multiply by that playerís PA. So for Burrell last year, this number comes out to 21.5, or 2.15 wins above replacement.

Over the past four years, Burrell has averaged 20.6 runs above replacement. Considering aging, letís assume he will be worth about 20 runs above replacement in 2009. Adding this all up, Burrell projects to be worth about 2.25 wins above the average replacement level player. For a more detailed explanation on replacement evaluation, check out The Hardball Times.

Tampa Bay will wind up paying Burrell less than $4 million per win, which is very good. This move brings an above average player to an already very good team, and that could spell trouble for other contenders in the AL East.




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.

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