Sunday, February 12, 2012

AJ Burnett's Value

Whether it's fantasy baseball or "real" baseball, you always here the phrase "don't sell low". And not surprisingly a lot of Yankee fans have been using that statement when it comes to trading AJ Burnett. They argue that his value is lower than it's ever been, so it doesn't make sense to trade him now.

There's no doubt that Burnett's value has never been lower. In 2010 his ERA+ was 82, and in 2011 it wasn't much better at 86. And in his 13 seasons of MLB, those were the 1st and 2nd lowest ERA+ seasons he's had. On top of that, AJ's fWAR last year was 1.5, was 1.4 the year before, and his fWAR hasn't been lower than 2.6 since 2001 (it was lower in 2003, but AJ only made 4 starts that season, so I'm giving him a pass there).

But the problem with that thinking is that it implies that Burnett's value is going to go up, and I'm not sold on that. The only good thing I can say about AJ, and I've done it right here at this blog, is that I believe Burnett will be able to give the team 175+ innings. And there is value in that, at least to a team like the Pirates, who don't have to worry about leaning on AJ throughout the playoffs or regular season. The Bucs simply need a guy to eat innings for a couple of seasons, while kids like Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon develop for a couple more years in the minors.

For starters, AJ's Home Run percentage has gone up in each of the last three seasons (2.8 to 3.0 to 3.7). Then I see his Extra Base Hit percentage the last three years has also gone up and up (6.9% to 8.4% to 9.9%). Although his Strikeout percentage is still pretty good (20.7% last season), I just don't see it getting close to the 25.5% that it was in 2007, so that it truly makes up for a really high walk-rate (3.93 BB/9IP last season, 2nd in the AL to Gio Gonzalez). Put all that together with the fact he's had 58 Wild Pitches over the last three seasons, which leads all of MLB by 15 (King Felix is 2nd with 43), and I'm not going to miss AJ Burnett at all.

But will AJ's value go down? I can't say for sure that it will, but I have a very good reason to say "yes", and that lies in the fact that Burnett may see very few starts in 2012 for the Yankees. In fact, I could see him being in the bullpen all year long. And if you think anybody would be willing to take on a reliever with a price-tag of 1 year at $16.5 million you're crazy. Jeremy Affeldt got a 1 year $5 million contract with the Giants, which was the highest 1 year contract given out to a non-closing reliever this offseason . So at this point there is certainly reason to think that AJ Burnett's value, for the rest of his career, is as high as it'll get. Which frankly is pretty sad.

So I'm going to be pumping my fist when/if Burnett is dealt.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)