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
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
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
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.