Thursday, April 28, 2011

Callup Profile: Emmanuel Burriss, 2B/SS

With Mark Derosa landing on the Disabled List (again...sigh), the Giants called up Emmanuel Burriss to add some depth to the infield and speed on the basepaths. As I noted yesterday in a post, Burriss had gotten off to a fast start out of the gate for the Grizzlies, as he was batting .344 with an .849 OPS and 15 stolen bases before his callup. With Miguel Tejada struggling as the Giants' starting shortstop (he is batting .200 with a .541 OPS and only one home run), Burriss is an interesting option, though I doubt he'll bring much competition to the position.

Burriss is a former first round pick out of Kent State University (he was the 33rd pick in the 2006 Draft and the Giants second pick in the first round with the other being Tim Lincecum). He has had two previous stints in the Majors: 2008 and 2009. In 2008, with Omar Vizquel suffering through injury and regression and Brian Bocock just a plain old bad option all together, Burriss came in and performed admirably as the Giants' starting shortstop. In 274 plate appearances, he hit .283 with a .357 OBP and added 13 stolen bases. Despite his good plate patience numbers though (0.96 BB/K ratio), he proved to add no power whatsoever as his ISO was only .046 and his OPS was .686.

In 2009, he earned the starting second base position in Spring Training in a close battle with Kevin Frandsen (the Giants gave the starting shortstop position to free agent Edgar Renteria). However, Burriss failed to capitalize on his strong Spring and 2008, as he regressed in almost every offensive category. His gaudy BB/K ratio fell to 0.41, his average dipped to .238 and his already minuscule power numbers fell to new depths (0.30 ISO). After playing in 94 games in 2008, he only appeared in 61 games in  2009 as he eventually lost the Giants' starting second base job to Matt Downs, Juan Uribe and eventually Freddy Sanchez (who was acquired in a trade-deadline deal for Tim Alderson).

Injuries have been an issue for Burriss, especially the past couple of years. After being demoted to Fresno, Burriss only played in 17 games in Triple-A before being shelved with a foot injury. In 2010 in Spring Training, he aggravated his foot again and only played 79 games total among stops in San Jose (for rehab), Fresno and San Francisco (he only played seven games with the Giants though and has only five plate appearances). The 2010 foot injury proved to have an effect on Burriss' stats as his wOBA was only .305 in Fresno and he only stole 11 bases on 16 attempts (he stole 103 bases in 2006 and 2007 total amongst his stops in Salem-Keizer, Augusta and San Jose). While it seems like his foot hasn't bothered him so much this year (as evidenced by his 15 stolen bases), Burriss' injury history is going to be an issue as he gets older.

Though his athleticism has been a noted trait of Burriss throughout his professional career, his defense is a bit questionable. On an advanced statistical note, Burriss' profile isn't impressive. At shortstop his career UZR is negative-3.7 and at second base, his UZR is only 0.2. And, he only has a 55 FSR (fans scouting reports) rating according to Thus, while he may not be Tejada-esque (negative UZR numbers the past three years), Burriss isn't exactly that much of an upgrade defensively as some Giants fans would like to believe.

With Andres Torres on the DL, Burriss, along with Darren Ford, bring some speed to a Giants roster that is devoid of it sans Torres. That being said, while Burriss' start has been very good this year in the Pacific Coast League, his slap-hitting approach (career 2.62 GB/FB ratio in the Majors) can be kind of hit and miss in terms of success (his BABIP was .310 in his good 2008; .284 during his mediocre 2009). If Burriss can find some holes in his short stint with the Giants, then maybe he could be a dark horse option for the Giants if Tejada or Fontenot don't cut it in the infield. To be realistic though, I foresee Burriss contributing more to the Fresno club this year rather than the San Francisco one (though that isn't necessarily a bad thing, since the Grizzlies would benefit with him as their leadoff or numbr two hitter and Brett Pill and Brandon Belt hitting behind him).

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