March 02, 2012

The Future Was Burright, And Then

wanted to write about this card because not only does Larry have a big ol' chaw of tobacco in his cheek and it looks like a paper airplane got stuck in his hair, but his action shot is definitely fixin' to creep up all slow like on that there raccoon and kill him some dinner. Hell, his nickname was Possum. But that was before I found his full career stats on Baseball Reference.

Sure, he looks optimistic, scanning the stands for blondes, contemplating when he should re-shave the line from his hairline to the bridge of his nose, but let's get one thing straight right away. Before the baseball gods built Mario Mendoza to remind man that hitting a baseball is hard, they needed a prototype. And his name was Larry Burright. And he was bad.

In 1961, after performing well at the Double AA level, he was promoted to Triple AAA and celebrated by connecting for just 2 hits in 52 plate appearances. And for his struggle, he was rewarded with a trip to the big time. I'm not sure what the Dodger brass was thinking, except maybe Junior Gilliam was getting a little too creaky-kneed or something, but Burright didn't exactly light it up. I don't have it in me to sugar-coat Larry's futility at the plate. I'll leave that to the Topps copywriter:

During the first half of the 1962 campaign, Larry was one of the N.L.'s top 10 batters.

Really? He finished the season with a .205 average. In all actuality, his fall down the leaderboard was fairly spectacular. Burright knocked the cover off the ball in May as the Dodgers' starting shortstop, cresting as high as .375 on May 20. Too bad the season didn't end there. On June 2, he was hitting .324. And then the bottom fell out: Burright did not get another base hit until June 30, finishing up the month with a .248 average. By July 28 he was at .214, and from the beginning of August until the end of the year, he was pretty much a late-innings defensive replacement, coasting in at .205.

On top of being a terrible hitter, Burright was not too great when it mattered defensively: his error in the top of the ninth inning of the one-game play-off against the Giants allowed a run to score and turned a close game into a hopeless situation for the Dodgers. Or as the Topps copywriter put it:

He has good range and makes difficult plays look easy.

Uh... let me re-write that blurb for you:

What started as a stellar 1962 campaign as the Dodgers' everyday shortstop crashed and burned in spectacular fashion, like a slow-motion train wreck. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what is the poin of this article? did this guy sleep with your mom or something?