I feel I'm a pretty reflective writer. I like to think that I ask myself what I'm getting right and what I'm getting wrong often enough that I hold very few sacred cows.
But I know I have at least one: 200 IP.
I will give up a lot for a pitcher able to throw 200 innings in a single season. Your guy has a better K/9 but is only going to make 150 because his high pitch count drives him out of games by the 5th inning? I'll take the lesser pitcher able to go deeper in the game. Sub in whatever stat you want: K/BB, WHIP, FIP, WAR; none of them give enough credit to a guy able to go out every fifth day and able to pitch into the 6th or 7th inning.
It protects the bullpen. It shows a consistency that gives the team a chance to win every time. It's harder to do than you think.
For fun, can you name the 16 AL pitchers who have thrown more innings than AJ Burnett this season?
Of those 16, can you identify the 11 pitchers who have posted a better xFIP than AJ's 3.92 mark?
Now name the 1 guy in those 11 who has been better than AJ but who also holds a lower winning percentage?
AJ hasn't been CC Sabathia in 2011. That's no secret. But the fans who want to Javy Vazquez him simply boggle my mind. AJ is one of the better starting pitchers in the American League this season- more reliable than Hughes, Garcia, Colon or Nova. He's taken the ball every 5th day, and unlike a certain "super" set up man I could name, he's stood by his locker after every start, good or bad.
There are plenty of Yankees to be frustrated with, and plenty of players to hate as this team rides a six game win streak amidst a 14-5 tear. But AJ Burnett is not one of those guys.