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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Scouting Report A.J. Burnett

Can you believe A.J. Burnett is 34, and is in his 13th season as a major leaguer. That surprised me, because you would think he would be a little more consistent than the maddeningly inconsistent that is A.J. Burnett. 114-103 career record, with a 3.99 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, 8.2 K/9 rate, and 3.7 BB/9 rate; does that sound like someone who is in his 3rd year of a 5 year, 82 million dollar deal?  There were people calling for the Yankees to completely cut ties with Burnett after last year's disaster down the stretch, when his ERA down the stretch was 6.61. And that's way too much money to just eat, so he's back for another year; plus, who else do the Yankees have to replace him?

A.J. Burnett's stuff can be filthy, so filthy in fact, that he needs the American League in wild pitches. If you had asked baseball scouts who has the best "stuff" in baseball, Burnett would definitely get votes, and probably be in the top 5. His fastball used to sit in mid-90s, but his fastball velocity is down to 92.4 (was 94 average in 2009), an 82 mph curve (30% of his pitches), and an 88 mph change-up (not a big enough differential between his fastball, maybe a classification error). His curve-ball is by far his best pitch.

This year Burnett is the same pitcher as he was last year; he's 4-3 (9 starts, 56 1/3 innings), with a 3.99 ERA, and a 1.17 WHIP (due to a very low BAPIP of .235). His K/9 rate, 6.71 is the lowest since 2001, and his BB/9 rate is 3. He's let up 25 HR in each of the past 2 years, and he's let up 9 already, so he is still prone to break down and have a big inning.

Burnett didn't face the Mets last year, and has thrown over 110 innings against them in his career, but 98 innings came before 2005, so I'm not even going to bother posting his stats against the Mets.

It's amazing that he's making 16 million dollars a year, and has never made an all-star team; although his name elicits expectations that he could throw a no-hitter, he really is just an average pitcher at this point.

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