Tuesday, March 07, 2006

March 7th, 1951

Jeff Burroughs Born

"When Burroughs reached the majors in 1970 his first manager was Ted Williams. The two sincerely hated one another. One retold by [Shelby] Whitfield is that Burroughs, who chewed gum constantly, would take out his gum at night and stick it on the bed post. The hotel maids didn't appreciate that and one of the maids wrote Burroughs a note asking him to throw the gum in the trash. Burroughs (or one of his teammates) wrote back a note telling the hotel maid to go____ herself. Ted Williams had to talk to the rookie and tell him not to stick gum on the bed post and write nasty notes to the maid."

~Bill James, The New Bill James Historical Abstract

Burroughs (whose son Sean is currently enjoying a mediocre career with the San Diego Padres) was at his best a truly quality hitter, he won the MVP Award in 1974, in what was his second full season in the Major Leagues. Those first two years he posted an OPS+ of 140 and 161 but perhaps raising expectations he would be a truly great hitter, but Burroughs was never that good in two consecutive seasons again. He ended his career with a still respectable 121 OPS+ and is probably one of the top hundred right fielders of all time (Bill James puts him seventieth). But whether from lack of maturity or just because he was playing over his head, the Jeff Burroughs of 1973 and '74 was not the Jeff Burroughs of his career.

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