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December 13 2006

Many a Phillie fan has been gripped by a single thought as Pat Burrell stepped to the dish.  Just swing, Pat.  Just this once.  Give it a shot.  Please?  It's not working.  He's not swinging, whether you want him to or not.  Sorry.  If anything, the trend towards Pat-the-who-needs-a-bat is getting more dramatic.  Over the past five years Burrell has seen more pitches per plate appearance than he did the year before in every season.  The trend is so dramatic it's hard to believe it's a coincidence and not Burrell's approach to hitting.  Whether it's a coincidence or not, it has made Burrell a good hitter. 

Many wonder, however, if it's keeping him from being a great hitter.

For three straight seasons Bobby Abreu has led all of baseball in pitches seen per plate appearance.  In 2006 he saw an average of 4.45 pitches every time he came to the plate.  You kind of wonder if he got some of it on his former fellow corner outfielder.  Burrell wasn't far behind Abreu last season, he led the National League:

 

Year P/PA NL Rank
2006 4.32 1
2005 4.27 2
2004 4.21 T-5
2003 4.14 4
2002 4.09 8
2001 4.03 12

The question is whether seeing all these pitches is making Burrell a better hitter or not.  One thing for sure is that he's walking more:

 

Year BB/PA NL Rank
2006 .173 2
2005 .148 7
2004 .146 11
2003 .120 18
2002 .130 16
2001 .113 T-25

Burrell has posted his two best on-base percentages in the last two seasons.  Remember that Burrell's best year was 2002 when he stroked 37 home runs while posting a 282/376/544 line.  He hasn't been that good since, but his last two seasons have been better than the two before:

 

Year PA HR PA/HR OPS
2006 567 29 19.6 890
2005 669 32 20.9 892
2004 534 24 22.3 821
2003 599 21 28.5 713
2002 684 37 18.5 920
2001 618 27 22.9 816

For three straight years Burrell has been hitting home runs more frequently than he did the year before.  His OPS has been solid in '05 and '06, far surpassing what he did in '03 and '04.  He's been a better hitter in the past two seasons that the two previous ones.  The odd thing is still his '02 season -- in the best year of his career he was walking less and seeing fewer pitches in every at-bat.  Since then he's seen more pitches in every year and been a less effective hitter who's gotten much better of the past two seasons.

Salomon Torres is apparently more than the Pirates would give for Jon Lieber.  This article speculates on what the Phils might get for Lieber.

The Phillies acquired 24-year-old left-handed pitcher Bobby Livingston from the Devil Rays for cash.  Livingston made 22 starts at Triple-A in the PCL last season, going 8-11 with a 4.59 ERA in 23 games.  He pitched in three games for the Mariners in '06, all in relief, and allowed ten runs in five innings.

Another team makes a deal for a center fielder as the Astros send Willy Tavares, Jason Hirsch and Taylor Bucholtz to the Rockies for Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio.

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