Prior to the season, the Rays made one of their biggest splashes in the free agent market in years. The Rays signed Pat Burrell to a 2-year, $16 million contract. Many thought the Rays had one of the biggest steals of the off-season. After all, in the previous four years, Burrell averaged .262-31-99 with a .385 OBP and a .889 OPS.

This year, Burrell is on pace for .238-4-46, with .349 OBP and .664 OPS. It has been so bad, that Jon Heyman ranked Burrell as the third worst free agent signing of this past off-season.

The optimist will tell you that Burrell has been injured and he is a naturally streaky player. The pessimist will tell you that the Rays are almost at the midway mark of the season. And a commenter recently pointed out that the Pat Burrell wearing the Rays uniform is not the same Pat Burrell that played in Philadephia for the past 9 seasons.

That is not the face of a man the veteran Phillies players dubbed “The Bait”. That is not the face of one of the hottest bachelors in Philadelphia. In fact, Burrell is not even a bachelor any longer. So has Burrell “let himself go” since he got married and got his new contract?

We contacted of The Fightins for a reaction to Burrell’s new “figure”:

Wow.  You would think that being tempted by cheese steaks and soft pretzels for nine years would’ve made Pat fat.  Apparently all he needed was a new contract and a wife.  He must’ve been growing that horrible goatee to cover up the developing second chin.  Say it ain’t so, Pat!

Whatever the reason, the Rays were sold a bill of goods.



  1. Sam A says:

    The fact that the Phillies chose to let Burrell go and instead signed Ibanez to 3/30 was the first red flag.

    I grew up watching the NL and even though I've mostly fellowed the AL in recent years, I've always had a bias against DH-only players. I'm not saying I knew Burrell would be this bad. I didn't. But I was much less excited than most when I heard the Rays had signed him.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Frankly, I'm disgusted by this post. I've been a reader of the website for years, and have generally felt fairly positively about it. I don't recall, off the top of my head, a post which has angered me more than this one.

    The factual accuracy of this post is non existent. Pat Burrell is not "fat". Having spent a fair bit of time in close proximity to him at a charity event a few weeks ago, I can personally attest to that. I don't have access to the numbers that the Rays do, but I would venture to guess that his body fat percentage is astonishingly low. He takes pride in his conditioning and shows up to the ballpark 6-7 hours early before nearly every game to work out and practice.

    Regarding his performance, his K:BB ratio stands at .735. Last year, it was .75. The year before that, .95. The year before that, .738. So let's not worry about his OBP, his eye at the plate remains as strong as ever - in fact, he's striking out less than his career rate while keeping his walks the same. He's seeing slightly fewer balls inside the strike zone, but making more contact on balls both inside and outside the strike zone.

    So what is the actual difference? He's hitting slightly fewer line drives, although with the sample size, nothing conclusive can be drawn (15% this year compared to a career average of 20.8%). Ground balls and fly balls are roughly the same. The number that suddenly stands out? A career average of 16.3% of his fly balls go for home runs. This year, 3.6%.

    This conclusion should be obvious without looking at the numbers - the only surprising thing about Pat Burrell's year so far has been the lack of home runs. Everything else is exactly what we expected to get. I cannot even begin to come up with the reasoning that led you to conclude that the Rays were "sold a bill of goods" without attempting (or at least writing about any attempt) to explain what has led to the power decline.

    Instead what we get is a (factually incorrect) personal attack on someone I'm guessing you've never even met. What evidence do you have that he has gained weight (and that that weight is fat)? I don't think anyone here needs to be reminded how misleading TV screen grabs can be. What indication do we have that weight gain would then translate into a decrease in power? Until you make that argument, you're just being needlessly insulting without contributing anything to advance the discussion. Being a fan doesn't mean that you blindly rubber stamp everything the team does, but it does mean that you don't blindly toss around affronts for no good reason.

    Given that the team is winning, you can't even use frustration as an excuse.

    • Sean says:

      obviously you have some personal offense that has been taken here, but I can assure you that after living in Philly the last 4 years and going to many Phillies games, Burrell HAS added a lot of weight. What Prof points out in this post isn't anything we haven't been talking about all season.

      Is he fat? maybe not, but believe me, that double chin is not something you find on somebody that "takes pride in their conditioning".

    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      Not to alienate another "faithful reader", but why would you take this post so personally?
      Because you met Pat and think he's a great guy?


      Let's not forget that with only a few select exceptions, even "fat" major leaguers look well-conditioned compared to your average non-athlete, so to say that he's well-conditioned does not in and of itself eliminate the possibility that he's fatter than he was in Philly, or fat by athletic standards.

      The man's frame has changed fairly drastically since coming to Tampa, and yes, rapid weight gain can most certainly affect his swing-mechanics adversely.

      To even allude to the fact that TB fans shouldn't be disappointed is foolish considering the magnitude of the signing, and the fact that he typically averages more than 30 HR's each year which is the sole reason he was brought in. Rays' fans have every right to, and should most definitely be disappointed with Burrell to this point

      Grow thicker skin or start your own "I'm in Love with Pat Burrell" blog.

    • ZOMG!#@$@#$%#$%^ says:

      a reader of this site for years? then certainly you are familiar with Navi's nickname on this site and other Rays blogs, The Fat Catcher. And yet this is the first time you are offended? Me thinks somebody has a crush on Pat

    • Sam A says:

      I don't want to pile on here, but the size of Burrell's contract (by Rays standards) is bound to make him a bigger target for criticism (no pun inteded). When fans are coming to terms with the possibility of parting with players like Iwamura and Crawford because the team needs to cut payroll, it is natural for them to be frustrated with guys like Burrell whose paycheck is way out of line with his production.

    • Stephanie says:

      Next time, I'll be sure to sign the post with a gender neutral name.

      Being critical of a player's performance to date and looking for reasonable explanations for that performance is one thing. Being personally insulting to a team and a player just to complain is another. I'm a big fan of rational discussions with supporting evidence - this is not one.

    • Scot says:

      It is good you are examining rates (K/BB, linedrives, etc.) The concern might be - even if you keep similar linedrive or FB/GB rates, if a player's core quickness has decreased, his ability to achieve the proper bat speed will decrease and hence he will hit fewer homeruns.

      I prefer to believe that Pat's performance (.248 vs. expected .290 to .300 equivalent average (EQA)) can be attributed to, as you point out, small sample size and possibly to a lack of familiarity with the new league.

      Thanks for posting a thought provoking (rational?) message.

      • Stephanie says:

        Generally, we would expect to see some indications that bat speed had decreased reflected in contact rates and strikeout rates. I suppose it's possible that bat speed could be an issue without showing up anywhere else, but that would be fairly unusual.

        • Scot says:

          We tend to look at outcome and only recently have we examined how the physics of the behavior of the players affects outcome (see pitching speed and movement.) While I willing to consider your hypothesis that bat speed is correlated with contact and strikeout rates, i.e., I would not be surprised if it were true, do anyone know of studies to confirm the hypothesis? This is an area where I feel baseball could improve, i.e., where smart teams can use this information to their advantage.

          I have strongly suspected that the Rays use vectoring calculations to help calculate where to place fielders. Estimating the rate at which fielders can track down flyballs/linedrives, they can find an optimum defense that works for a higher percentage of plays. Hence they are willing to give up the occasional over the head flyball to eliminate he more common line drive, pop-up that lands in front of fielders.

  3. Don says:

    Dear Professor you asked for it...calling every female fan's favorite(fantasy) player fat!!
    Seriously what male does not gain weight when they get married....
    eating was not a big deal when they were single...suddenly it becomes a favorite past time!
    Best question: How long would management keep a player in the line up(DH) when there is a better hitter on the bench....because they payed him too much money???
    Long enought to cost them a shot of playoffs/world series???

  4. Scot says:

    As someone who works out quite a bit and yet constantly suffers from overeating and gaining weight, allow me to speculate - maybe his body is retaining too much water due to some other reaction (too much salt, change in medication, etc.) We don't know. But his weight is not the issue [the question was just raised] - the issue is his performance. It is down, but is it so far down that, as Stephanie points out, we may be suffering from small sample size?

    Using EQA as our metric, for the past 3 years, Pat has been a steady .300 performer (2006-08: .299, .310, .300). The BP forecast was a slight decline to .293 for this year. This is a reasonable given that he does have slow slugger skills, which often decline at 32, Pat's age. Currently Pat's EQA is .248. With 173 PA, we can estimate a standard error of the estimate of a proportion of about .035, meaning that at this point we shouldn't be surprised if Pat's EQA is between .293+.035=328 and .293-.035=.258

    Ok, yes his number is pretty low, but it less than 2 standard deviations from the expected value. We have good confidence that it might be small sample size. The crummy part is that given how low it is, the guy is worse than a typical "replacement" player.

    If you really want to look at somebody who has made a significant change - it is Bartlett.

    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      The issue lies with the long-ball not his BA

      • Scot says:

        EQA (Equivalent average) is a complete measure of offensive performance per plate appearance. It incorporates slugging and on-base percentage. Since Pat has had fewer plate appearances than other, I believe it is a more rational way of evaluating his performance up to date. I don't even know what Pat's BA is.

        For more details on EQA, from the Baseball Prospectus website:

        Equivalent Average. A measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching. EQA considers batting as well as baserunning, but not the value of a position player's defense. The EqA adjusted for all-time also has a correction for league difficulty. The scale is deliberately set to approximate that of batting average. League average EqA is always equal to .260. EqA is derived from Raw EqA, which is (H + TB + 1.5*(BB + HBP + SB) + SH + SF) divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH + SF + CS + SB). REqA is then normalized to account for league difficulty and scale to create EqA.

  5. Scot says:

    Finally - even if Pat crashes, burns and is released, I still argue it was a acceptable signing and Ibanez was a bad signing for the money. Ibanez is having a complete career year. Nothing in the past suggest this would have happened. I expect him to return to his norm values and continue to lose games due to his fielding.

    No - a really stupid signing was Perez by the Mets. Everything said - replaceable player. So why given him the money?

    • Sam A says:

      Ibanez is also several years older than Burrell. My earlier comment wasn't suggesting that Ibanez was or will be the better player. My point was that the Phillies knew Burrell very well and yet opted for a much older player in Ibanez. To be fair, Burrell may have been asking for a lot more money from Philly, but it just seems that they may have had their doubts about his production going forward. Perhaps they knew something the Rays didn't...

      • Scot says:

        Perhaps the Phillies knew or suspected something. But relying upon past performance (and yes, we know past performance is not a guarantee of future performance, however it does a pretty good job for these questions), Pat has been pretty darn steady per plate appearance.

        I would suspect that his numbers can be partially attributed to joining a new, and more difficult league, and partially due to small sample size. Yet, getting pudgy in the face doesn't help his cause. 🙂

  6. Joel says:

    Out of curiosity - do we know when the picture on the left was taken? Beyond looking much more svelte, Pat's looking pretty young in that picture. It'd be pretty unfair to use a picture of Pat from several years ago. Honestly my memory of him from the WS last year was that he was a little on the chunky side.

    I guess it'd be a little easier to explain his slump as "he's fat" rather than "he's old and content with his one WS ring."

    • no, we don't know when that pic is from specifically. but 2 points to defend it's use

      1. That is one reason I contacted a Phillies blogger was to verify that he indeed looked bigger this year.
      2. His growth since last season is only one part of the concern. The other is that many looked at his consistency over the years and it concerns me that many/all of those seasons were produced at a smaller size/better physical condition.

      So maybe he hasn't grown as much in 6 months as those pics suggest but he has grown and he appears to be less in shape than when he posted all those numbers in Philly.

    • Wally Pipp says:

      I have to agree with the Professor. Burrell does look beefier than in he did the past. And that extra bulk can very well can affect swing mechanics. I'm not saying that's the only reason for his power outage, but can be attributing to it.

      For the record, in the photo, that patch on his right sleeve looks like the Veteran's Stadium commemorative from 2003. I can't post a link here, so if you want to see it, Google "Chris Creamer's Sports Logos" and look on the Phillies' page.

      Neither skinniness nor youth helped Burrell that year. It was his worst in the majors (prior to this one) -- .209, 21, 64, .404.

  7. missraysball says:

    the photo at the top of the page was taken during last years world series.

    i couldn't care less that the dude has put on some lbs...he's finally settling in, getting "toasty" at the plate as Maddon likes to say, and hey, he has 2 SBs! that's more than Pena or Navi. more cushin for pushin them balls out the field!

  8. says:

    Perhaps Pat had swollen glands in that Rays picture? Retaining water?

    And the one commenter was right, that picture of Pat on the left is from 2003.

  9. Myrna says:

    OMG you guys...gotta admit I had a few laughs, but really...I go to a lot of Rays games and Pat is a handsome, svelt guy who has a presence about him when he walks out to that plate. He is definitely NOT fat and I believe his bat will help us out more often than not. Long season people. Now Navi...PA-LEEZE!

  10. Lynniemac says:

    I would think it's possible that any weight gain on Pat's part could be due to an extended stint on the DL, coupled with the fact that he's gone from playing both offense and defense everyday for the last 9 years to having nothing to do but wait around for his next AB.

    And the picture is definitely from 2003 - you can see the last year of the Vet patch on his uni.

  11. Dirtbag Fan says:

    I have, after careful study, determined that too much sabermetrics has made you all dull...

    Baseball is a game, played by humans, not a bunch of robots that you can quantify with a calculator, no matter how many numbers you crunch or how many formulas you combine stats aren't always the answer.

    Statistics have their place but they are not and never will be the end-all/be-all of baseball.

    Look up from your calculators and watch the game, and perhaps you'll learn something.

    You can study how to hunt for lions, but until tyou've actually hunted that giant cat as it is bearing down on you at 25 mph while foaming at the mouth, you really don't know how to hunt for lions...

    Mathmatics are theory, athletics are reality.

    • Amanda says:

      Two words: Terry Forster.

      I'm going to have to go with you, DF. Baseball is an every-man's game. You can have a bean pole like B.J. Upton, or you can have a guy who looks like he belongs in a beer league, like Babe Ruth, John Kruk, or the afore mentioned heavyweight.

      That's another reason why the steroids era pissed me off. It turned the ordinary Joes of baseball into superheroes, ones that the rest of the Joes couldn't keep up with.

    • Possum Avenger says:

      Dirtbag Fan -- This is one of the stupidest, most cliched comments I have ever read on this site.

    • Scot says:

      The numbers we examine are as equally real is what you "see" when you watch the game. While others can enjoy the game through their filter, those of us who watch and use numbers enjoy the game through multiple dimensions. We are able to provide more support for our arguments. We are also able to discover differences that are essentially indiscernible through human observation. I strongly suspect that just by watching a two players, you could not determine which player has the .300 BA and which has the .250 without them posting the BA on the scoreboard. Why? Because the extra 0.50 is 1 extra hit in 20 at bats which is essentially one extra hit every 5 games which is barely more than an extra hit per week. Yes, just one more groundball with eyes, just one more baltimore chop, just one more dying quail per week and you are in Yankee stadium.

      So for those of us who enjoy baseball and the mathematics associated with baseball, statistics and probabilities gives us an added dimension to the game - thus more depth. It makes the game more interesting. I hope you are willing to try it yourself.

      • Amanda says:

        And you're talking to someone who took calculus as an elective in college. As much as I love baseball numbers, some people have taken it too far. Like the people who say that a pitcher's arm will fall off if they throw more than a set number of pitches in a game. They absolutely do not take into account that the number of pitchers "with their arms falling off" happened during the steroid era, when they were probably juicing and doing horrible things to their bodies. That's an example of numbers obscuring something that isn't tangible.

        *Only* looking at the numbers turn baseball into something drab and boring. *Only* looking at the intangibles takes away the beauty in the numbers. I'll take a nice combination of the two, thank you very much.

        • Scot says:

          I was addressing my remarks to Dirtbag Fan. Glad you can see the complexity and beauty in both.

  12. Gus says:

    Blue makes me look fat too.

    Amazing that we are 20 plus posts in and nobody mentions PEDs. But once I saw that picture of Burrell from his Philly days with his shirt off looking like a bodybuilder, you had to figure he is the type of guy who once he signs his last contract may go off the stuff. Plus he runs on his toes exactly like Jose Canseco (not that there is anything wrong with it). If he or Stephanie don't like my commentary, than tell his crummy union to give a blood test like Olympic athletes do. Until then, if quacks like a former juicer, he's a former juicer in my book.

    At the quarter pole of his contract term, you'd have to say it will be one of the worst signings in team history unless his neck condition improves and he starts to play. You don't dedicate 1/9th of your payroll to a guy to get some walks.

    • Andrew says:

      Wow. On a thread filled with stupid and offensive comments, Gus manages to sink to a new low.

      Although I generally love this site (and my "BOSSMAN JR" Rayshead shirt), the initial post here was -- and let's be kind -- pretty weak. Calling out a player as "fat" when he's having a crappy year is the kind of non-analysis that I would expect from your average Yankee fan.

      So I'm glad that Scot and Stephanie got on here and made valid points on this thread -- that just saying "Pat is Fat" isn't a substitute for analysis.

      In response, half a dozen people dismissed Stephanie's page-long statistical analysis with "ha ha ur a dum girl u just think Pat is hot." Okay; whatever. So some of you guys are sexist jerks. I guess that's not too surprising.

      But now we get to possibly the stupidest thing I have ever read. "Gus" -- whom I'm guessing is probably about 5'6" and 300 pounds and probably has a keyboard covered in Cheetos crumbs -- thinks, ON THE BASIS OF NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER, that Pat Burrell "is a former juicer" and will consider him guilty until proven innocent until Pat convinces the MLBPA to institute mandatory steroids testing.

      Oh my! "Gus" from the Internet thinks Burrell is on the juice and orders mandatory steroids testing, STAT. Get Donald Fehr on the phone before he retires! The fate of the free world -- or at least, "Gus" from the Internet -- depends on it!

      Hey, Gus: have you, you know, actually *looked* at the stat lines of former steroids users? Have you compiled any evidence of anyone who goes off the juice and has their performance decline in the way that Burrell has? (Hint: steroids do not work that way.) Is there ANY reason to think that the 31-year-old Burrell has "signed his last contract"? (Hint #2: No.)

      No. You just sit there with your fat, orange fingers and insult the only two people on this thread who have had anything of substance to contribute, while demanding that the MLBPA change its policy before you'll change your mind. Congratulations on being impervious to the facts, "Gus" from the Internet!


      • Gus says:

        I'll ask the Prof to troll out the numbers (and the ridiculous beefcake shot if he has it). I wish it weren't true, but the PED abuses of his MLB brethren have to make you ask what's up with his performance. Spare me the indignation. I just wish my team had fallen for it. As an organization, they have spent the last 5 years avoiding paying guys who can't field and can't run and they fell for this guy's act by looking too much at the numbers and not watching him play. $18M that this team doesn't have to waste on a clown like him.

        • Possum Avenger says:

          Dear Gus,

          You're a moron.



        • Scot says:

          I'm glad you raised PEDs. I think we need to refer to the Mitchell report - the one report that spoke the truth - that named names - that looked at steroids from many angles.

          And the report was quite clear - there is no scientific evidence linking steroid use and improved batting performance.

          Sorry - that is the evidence at the moment.

    • Sam A says:

      I will not accuse Burrell (or any other player) of using PEDs without more evidence than 'he looks good with his shirt off.'

      I do think PEDs are relevent to this discussion. Not because I think Burrell used them, but because they have impacted our expectations of an MLB player's natural career arc. There have been several theories advanced here (let himself go just a little, small sample size, PEDs) when the explanation may just be that he is past his prime. It's happened before and to better players than Pat Burrell.

  13. first of all, I do not think Burrell is fat anymore than i think Mrs. Professor is blind when she can't find the remote right in front of her face.

    in the title i made a little play on his nickname, because Burrell definitely has NOT been "The Bat" this season. at no point in the post do i say Burrell is "fat".

    as for a lack of "analysis"...why is it ok to speculate that Navi's supposed weight loss will help him on the field and why was it ok before the season to speculate on the benefits of Kazmir gaining 20 pounds. why cant we now speculate that Burrell's on-field performance is being impacted by the addition of a few LBs?

    • Stephanie says:

      No one thought you were suggesting that Pat Burrell is morbidly obese. I get that.

      But what you *did* do in the original post is advance two arguments
      (I'm being generous there) - first, that Burrell has "let himself go"
      and second, that the Rays were "sold a bill of goods".

      My original post was designed to, by and large, refute the second argument - he's been exactly as expected, with the (large) exception of the non-existent power. The most parsimonious explanation does seem to be a combination of small sample size, bad luck, and injury. Combine
      that with Burrell being a notoriously streaky hitter, and sluggers tending to group their HR production in bunches, and outcomes like this, while disappointing, are not unheard of. We've now seen 2 HR in 6 days, which could quite easily be the start of one of those streaks, and if Burrell finishes with the same AVG and OBP, but with 25 home runs, this entire discussion will look ridiculous at the end of the year.

      I only tangentially touched on the first "point", because it seemed pretty ridiculous. You suggested that his weight has increased, and that the increase in weight is fat. My point in my original post was apparently misunderstood by most everyone. I'm not suggesting you're wrong because I hung out with Pat and thought he was a great guy. I'm suggesting that I observed Pat at close proximity, in different outfits, and at different angles, and he has very little fat on his body at all. I did not personally observe him in 2003, I can't speak to what changes he's undergone in the past 6 years, but the amount of body fat he currently carries is fairly minimal. Between my personal observation versus a television screen grab, I give more weight to the former.

      Beyond that, and what I think is the argument that crosses way over the line, you suggest that Pat has made a decision to "let himself go" - a conscious, deliberate decision to cease performing at a previously achieved level. I think that accusation is inappropriate to level at someone you've never met when you have absolutely no evidence to back it up. It's a vicious personal attack that you make...because you're frustrated? I don't know, I don't get it.

      There are several responses that could be made - Pat shows up to the ballpark hours before he's required to in order to work out, practice, and train, he's meticulous about nutrition and diet, and in fact, has turned it into a personal hobby, and maybe most significantly - he is 31 years old. He signed a short term contract in a severely depressed economy so that he could continue to build his value and be more attractive to a team when the economic outlook is better. He has every (financial and personal) incentive to play at the absolute top of his game right now.

      Plenty of people make critical arguments against all of the Rays players. It seems like each week, a new player is the goat of the fanbase. I don't understand it, but I generally stay out of those discussions - different people enjoy rooting for their teams in different ways, I guess. But what I do find to be offensive is completely unsupported nonsense that is tossed out there as an "explanation" for an aberrant performance to date. You didn't speculate that Burrell's on the field performance is being affected by a weight gain, you asserted that Burrell gained weight because he doesn't care, and asserted that it had something to do with the Rays getting swindled in their signing. I don't think the difference is that subtle.

      This will likely be my last post on the subject, I think I've made my opinion clear. It's your site, you can post whatever you want - I just found this post to be a pretty far cry from what drew me into becoming a reader.

  14. Don says:

    Dear Prof....I warned you...a woman scorned..
    Is worth at least 10 paragraphs of defending her man!

  15. Beth says:

    Don, was this your effort at clever irony, or are you really a sexist fool? Stephanie has written two thoughtful, articulate,analytical posts defending her arguments, but because of her gender (or assumed gender based on her name) you feel you can dismiss her. I write this not even because I agree with all her points (in fact, I think Burrell's weight is a legitimate discussion point; even if he's not "fat" it is certainly possible that his weight gain is associated with some change in his ability). But I hate to think that we women can't express our opinions about players without spurring some kind of middle school-like response from the guys!

  16. Don says:

    I never said women can't express their opinions.....
    In fact I learned that.... way before middle school!

    • Amanda says:

      I actually agree with Don in this instance. I went back and looked at The Prof's original post again. If you read past the "headline," the Prof makes valid points. I've seen too many women (hell, men too) who can't separate their fandom from fair debate. And to say that within the span of one season, Burrell has dropped that far -- especially for the major off-season acquisition that he was supposed to be -- is not a slam, and neither is questioning his fitness.

      And so what if he called him "fat" in a headline. He's used similiar barbs in the past, and I'm sure Pat didn't go crying to his mommy just because Cork called it liked he saw it.

      (I guess this means your a weightist now, Cork. Sorry bro.)


Leave a Comment