No. 39: Jeff Burroughs

jeff burroughs.jpgRighthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing Outfielder
Seasons With Braves: 1977-1980
Stats With Braves: .268/.377/.472, 88 HR 289 RBI 247 RS

Jeff Burroughs was the top overall pick in the 1970 draft by the then Senators and was in the majors later that year, though he didn’t stick for good until 1973, by which time the team had moved to Texas. In 1974, he won the MVP as the Rangers finished a surprising second, but he struggled in the next two seasons and was sold to the Braves. Well, the Rangers got five players for him, but they were a couple of has-beens and three never-weres, and the important thing was the $250,000.

Burroughs made a big comeback in the Launching Pad, hitting a career-high 41 HR, second in the league, in his first season. In his second, he had the best year of his career even though his homers dropped to 23, hitting .301/.432/.529 and leading the league in walks and OBP. He made the All-Star team that year, but the Braves continued to struggle. Niekro was the best pitcher in the league and Burroughs was one of the best hitters, but they really only had three other good players (Matthews, Horner, and Garber) and you can’t win with two stars, three good players, and 20 catastrophes.

Anyway, some of the catastrophes started to improve in 1979, but something happened to Burroughs. I don’t know if it was a major injury (cursory research doesn’t reveal anything) or several lesser ones or just age catching up to him early. Burroughs was a big, slow guy with “old player’s skills”, and that type of player does tend to fade early, though 28 is pushing it. Anyway, he hit .224/.347/.348 and missed a bunch of games that season. He did improve to .263/.347/.453 in 1980, but missed even more time and was traded after the season to the Mariners for Carlos Diaz, who wasn’t anything of note.

Burroughs, as mentioned above, was (and presumably still is) a big slow guy. Reports on his defense all describe it as very bad, within a range of “tries hard and is mechanically okay but is just too slow” to “Luzinskiesque”. (Jeff Burroughs : Gary Matthews :: Ryan Klesko : Michael Tucker.) Anyway, Burroughs’s range factors are very low, his fielding percentages a little below average, and he had some nice assists totals. After blundering around in the outfield for Seattle for a year, he moved on to the A’s where he was a part-time DH for three years, then wound up his career playing for Bobby Cox and the Blue Jays, one of Bobby’s platoon DHs. His last season he was only 34 and hit just a bit below his career standards, but he didn’t sign with anyone after that season.

Jeff Burroughs : Sean Burroughs as

A. Tony Gwynn : Anthony Gwynn
B. Yogi Berra : Dale Berra
C. Tony Pena Sr. : Tony Pena Jr.
D. Skip Caray : Chip Caray
E. None of the above

So sue me, I like analogies.

Jeff Burroughs Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

13 thoughts on “No. 39: Jeff Burroughs”

  1. Just to notice that you wrote him as #40, it should be #39.
    Thanks for the players’ stories, I love them.

  2. Question for anyone that wants to respond. Everyone that I’ve recently spoken with about the BCS claims that Auburn will jump up to 3 after the Michigan vs Ohio St game no matter what. If that is a really close game, wouldn’t the loser of the game still stay at #3. That game shouldnt hurt either team that much unless its a blow out. Auburn’s loss came to a team outside of the top 10 and will probably end up outside of the top 25 at years end. Who would be your pick to play for a national title. Lets assume things here and that Ohio St goes undefeated, what team should get to play them for a title?

    1. undefeated West Virginia
    2. a one loss Michigan team, loss against Ohio St
    3. a one loss Auburn team, loss against Arkansas.
    4. a one loss USC team, loss against either Cal or Notre Dame
    5. a one loss Notre Dame team, loss against Michigan

    looks like a good playoff scenario to me

  3. A few memories of Jeff Burroughs:

    Those thick Harry Caray glasses.

    To this day, I never saw a guy get whiffed as often on called strikes right down the middle. He must’ve guessed curveball a lot.

    His OF play bordered on legendary. He was a truly awful fielder. I recall a late-inning situation in Chicago that old Braves fans still talk about: Bottom 9, Braves blowing a big lead (again). Two outs, Braves trying to hang on—still up a run, runners on 1st & 2nd, Burroughs in LF. Single to left, a 47-hopper, goes right through his legs skipping toward the warning track, both runs score. Ballgame. My lasting memory is Burroughs lumbering for the ball while the Cubs round the bases.

    The upside: His first 2 years in ATL were pretty darn good. In 1977, he had 114 RBI, back at a time when very few did that. He only had 77 RBI in 1978, but was leading the NL in batting average until Sept. He ended barely above .300, but he was .320 or so all year long.

    I seem to recall that pitchers weren’t terribly interested in pitching to him in 1978, especially after Horner entered the lineup in the middle of the year. They basically walked Burroughs & pitched to the rookie instead, who ended up with 23 HRs & a ROY award.

    And yes, he faded surprisingly quickly.

  4. I think the first analogy should be

    Tony Gwynn, Sr. : Tony Gwynn, Jr.

    Yeah, I’m being nitpicky. But I just figured if you did it for the Penas… hehe

  5. Looking forward to the rest of the list, but I’m off to Amsterdam for the rest of the week. Business calls…

    I’ll be watching the NLCS & WS at the Satellite Cafe in the Leidseplein, cold one in hand. Go Tigers. Die Mets die.

  6. Mac, I’m enjoying this series a lot. Keep up the good work.

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been crushing the ball in the Arizona Fall League, so maybe there’s hope for him yet…

  7. Wow. Color me jealous, ububba. I’ve sat at that very cafe several times. L-O-V-E the Leidseplein, especially during the holidays. Cold as all get out, but just beautiful.

  8. Burroughs was actually a godsend in ’77 for Braves fans, let me tell you ’77 was one bad year to be a Braves fan, i.e. that was the year Ted “managed” a game, Burroughs actually gave a silver lining, in ’79 he just couldn’t play anymore.

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