Yesterday we started voting for the next member of the WSBGMs Hall of Fame. The same day, the inaugural inductee and my favorite Phillie of all-time, Patrick Brian Burrell, retired.
In addition to blog Hall member, Burrell's resume also includes a Golden Spikes Award, first overall draft pick in the 1998 MLB Draft, and two time World Series winner. He can also boast of about $70 million in career earnings.
Some may argue that Burrell didn't live up to the expectations of a number one overall pick, but he was far from a bust. (Remember, Paul Wilson, Matt Anderson, Bryan Bullington and Matt Bush have all been draft #1 in the last twenty years. As have mediocre players Kris Benson, Delmon Young and Luke Hochevar.) And if you look at the history of the Phillies, Burrell ranks pretty high in few offensive categories. He's 4th all-time in home runs, 5th in walks, 8th in RBIs, 8th in sacrifice flies, and 9th in extra base hits. He's also in the top twenty Phillies of all-time in doubles, intentional walks, total bases, OPS and slugging.
The ups and downs of Burrell's tenure in Philadelphia have been well documented all over the interweb and in "traditional" media. One year, he was "can't miss television," capable of planting any pitch into the left field stands. The next year, he would be unwatchable, capable of going games without as much as a foul ball. And which Burrell we would see from year to year was anybody's guess.
But as inconsistent as Burrell was on the field, he was just as consistent off of the field and in the clubhouse. He understood Philadelphia and its fans. He knew that failure would be met with vocal disapproval just as success would be met with glory and fanfare. And he never expected or asked for anything different. Instead of folding up and heading out to St. Louis, he soldiered on and left Philadelphia riding in a parade, as a hero.