The last in my series looking at the seasons the top three pitchers for the Yankees put together. I’m not doing Joba or the miscellaneous riff-raff (plus Phil “God Please Shave That Thing Off” Hughes) because frankly it’s not worth the time. I may revisit Joba before the inning limiting kicked in, however.
AJ is a very different pitcher from either Andy Pettitte or CC Sabathia. He strikes out a lot of guys but then he also walks a ton (and his BB/9 shot up this year after being pretty good for the last two). Because of that, I’m not going to comment extensively on the individual graphs because I think more than anyone else it’s important to look at the full picture beforehand.
Going by FIP, AJ Burnett overachieved quite a bit some months. And in some ways, he probably did but in the end it evened out. After his last start for the season he’s got an ERA of 4.11 and an FIP of 4.31.
AJ walked a lot of guys this year. His BB/9 shot up from the 3.5ish where it normally sits to 4.28. He still strikes out a lot of guys but those walks hurt.
I have no idea how or why this happened but AJ’s GB:FB ratio dropped to about 1.0 when over his career it’s been more like 1.5. Is it a blip? I guess we’ll find out in 2010. This is the sort of thing that deserves a Pitch F/X look but I’m no expert and don’t feel that I can ably tackle that issue.
Not the best of OPS against you’ll find, for sure, but not horrible I suppose. Walking as many guys as Burnett did this year will of course boost that number quite a bit. I felt this deserved a further breakdown because of the oddity of AJ:
So even when people can’t make any real contact (or everything finds gloves–though his BABIP for most of the season was pretty normal) he still puts them on base at a comparatively high rate. It makes you wonder sometimes why anyone would swing but for all the times AJ completely loses the zone for a batter there are times where he’s completely locked in.
Looking at all of this, I think it shows what we all know: AJ is a good pitcher with some weaknesses (such as free passes). If you troll through his gamelogs you’ll see a lot of good starts and then some amazing starts and completely awful starts mixed in. Overall, I think the Yankees got what they were looking for from Burnett this season. Sure, they would have loved to sign two CC Sabathias but I don’t think anyone thought he’d be consistently brilliant. The two extremes that often come out are what makes him so frustrating to watch and why it’s so terrifying to think of him pitching this October (and hopefully November!) and I’m sure in four years we’ll be crying everytime he takes the mound but this season he delivered what you could reasonably expect from him. And as an added bonus he was healthy all year again, which nobody expected.