Mood Music - I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
Name: Allan James Burnett
Date of Birth: January 3, 1977
Contract Status: A.J. Burnett signed a 5 year $82.5MM deal before the 2009 season. He is owed $16.5MM in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
2010 Stats: 186.2 IP, 10-15, 5.26 ERA, 4.83 FIP, 6.99 K/9, 3.76 BB/9, 1.3 WAR
2010 in Review: 2010 was a horribly disappointing campaign for A.J. Burnett. Despite excellent months of May and July, his cold streaks were so dismal that his final line looks truly scary. Burnett had a career year in the worst ways: Lowest K/9 and highest ERA.
The Good: A.J. Burnett is a much, much, better pitcher than that. The best thing about hitting rock bottom is knowing that the only way that you can go is up. I have a tough time believing that Burnett won't pitch better in 2011 than he did in 2010. He's just too talented to perform that poorly. Also, Burnett's peripherals indicate some positive regression from 2010 (.319 BABIP vs. .289 career, 68.8 LOB% vs. 71.6% career, 11.6% HR/FB vs. 10.5% career).
The Bad: Burnett walks too many people, has stopped missing bats, lost velocity and break on his fastball and curveball, and will continue to be overpaid for another 3 years. He also allows base-runners to run wild on him, is among the league leaders in wild pitches and hit batsmen, requires constant attention from the pitching coach, and always seems to be one bad pitch away from allowing six runs.
2011 Outlook: In 2011, I think that we've got a better chance of seeing the 2009 version of A.J. than the 2010 incarnation, but the most likely outcome is somewhere in the middle. If A.J. can throw 200 innings, keep his ERA in the 4s, and limit the meltdowns, I think we'd all be happy with that.