During his interview with DRays Bay, Erik Neander gave us some information that I had to think twice about Through all his 2009 struggles, Burrell's home ISO at the Trop was nearly identical to his home ISO at Citizen's bank park in 2008. That is interesting for a few reasons: the Trop has had some affect on right-handed power, but was obviously not the reason for Burrell's power outage. Also, if Burrell's power was pretty normal at home then what happened on the road?
Overall, Burrell hit .242/.336/.441 at Tropicana Field in 2009. That slash line is still less than his normal numbers, but quite the step up from his road numbers. Away from the Trop, he hit just .204/.297/.305; basically turning into Dioner Navarro. His home ISO was .199. Again, that is still less than his career number of .221, but much better than the .101 ISO showing on the road. I have no idea why there is such an extreme split. Maybe, if we played 81 games in Coors Field you could see the reasoning, but the Trop is relatively neutral. Other ideas include: league adjustment, having a sleep number mattress at home, Rays' using bad airlines and cheap motels, or maybe a hyperbaric chamber was left behind in Philly. Regardless of reason, Burrell was not a road warrior in ‘09.
Looking at pitch values, it's pretty easy to see which pitches gave Burrell problems last season. A notorious fastball killer, PtB had a negative pitch value on heaters last season. Not surprising, he seemed to be fooled by change-ups as well, which look like fastballs out of the release. Of course, loss in bat speed could easily explain the sudden drop off, but that would be a tremendously fast decline. There is also the notion that Burrell's neck injury, which cost him 34 days last season, bothered him a lot more than we all thought.
Another interesting thing I noticed was this isn't the first time Burrell struggled against fastballs. In his fourth season with the Phillies, he posted an identical -5.0 wFB. He also struggled with sliders and change-ups that season. His 2003 wOBA of .312 was only slightly better than his .304 in 2009. Some of those numbers are encouraging to those hoping for a bounce back season; however, there are some noticeable differences. Burrell made contact nearly 7% more last season. His BABIP was .30 points higher (although still below career average) and his ISO was still about .50 points lower. There's also the little fact that Burrell was 27 then and he's 33 now.
Whatever angle you take, there are many factors in play here. A change in league, division, and role all occurred. He also got older and got injured. Personally, I think Burrell is a strong regression candidate and will have a good season in 2010, but maybe that's just blind faith. In any event, it's about all we have right now with PtB. The statistics aren't telling much, and scouting opinions are mixed at best. With Milton Bradley in Seattle, and few teams looking for a 33 year-old DH coming off his worst season, it is looking more likely that Pat Burrell is our man in 2010...for better or worse.
Then again, who knows what the Rays could have up their collective sleeve.