The reason for this fantasy baseball bounce back candidate is simple.  If he doesn’t pitch well, the real life baseball team is in trouble (barring a trade).  Last year, A.J. Burnett pitched like everyday was Monday and Thursday, because that’s when my garbage gets picked up.  The days could vary in your local area, check when your significant other yells at you to take yours out.  Burnett was awful, and there have been stories abound about family distractions.  I believe his wife got a second opinion on some plumbing.  His K/9 of 6.99 was at its lowest since 2001, which is crazy forever in fantasy worlds and his first full season in the land of cups of coffee.  I don’t think that repeats itself.

Burnett’s ERA was an unforgiving 5.26, but he pitched to a serviceable 4.66 xFIP.  So examining his numbers deeper there seems to be only one problem, he got hit and hit hard.  His LOB% of 68.8 was the lowest in the last 5 years and his BABIP of .319 leaves little to be desired.  When you get behind batters, which it seemed like he always was, you tend to frame pitches and lose confidence in your secondary stuff.  Unfortunately The Stadium They Built Next To The Stadium Ruth Built is a haven for balls flying toward the D train and that isn’t going to help him.  So with a clear head and a honing of his command from new pitching guru, Rothschild, Burnett should be a decent late round buy as a low end 4th starter.  Figure 13 wins and 180 K’s with a useable ERA in the 4.10 range.  Gets a slight bump for run support and win capability on the Yanks.  And, by bump, I mean a pat on the back not another exciting Tuesday afternoon with Charlie Sheen.

  1. Alex says:

    Is this an April Fools joke?

  2. CarlWeathers says:

    Well I think he gets a rather large bump down because noone on the Yankess personally likes him still – and he has always been the type who wanted to fit in and be popular, but tries too hard and people see he’s just a douche. Seriously, dont draft this dude.

  3. motorcitykitty says:

    God I hope you’re right. He’s my sixth starter….

  4. John K says:

    You lose me at “bounce back”

  5. k roc says:

    Good post, I’ve been trying to get one of Shields, Burnett, and Vazquez for the last starter on most my teams. Surely one of them will bounce back and be useful again.

  6. Busta says:

    Sizemore or Tabata?

    H2H points league favoring power bats…if Sizemore is the vote – is he worth using #9 ww claim?

  7. donnie baseball says:

    I like him too. But he’s going pretty expensive in my drafts so I think a lot of people are thinking the same thing.

  8. Alex says:

    This reads like an Onion article because you don’t make one positive point about him, then conclude that he’s a prime buy-low.

    “His K/9 of 6.99 was at its lowest since 2001”
    “Burnett’s ERA was an unforgiving 5.26, but he pitched to a serviceable 4.66 xFIP. ”
    “His LOB% of 68.8 was the lowest in the last 5 years and his BABIP of .319 leaves little to be desired.”
    “When you get behind batters, which it seemed like he always was”
    “[his home park] is a haven for balls flying toward the D train and that isn’t going to help him. ”

    Conclusion: Pick him up!

    Miracles do happen in baseball (Trevor Cahill), and he could certainly have a bounceback. But to have you flagellate about how bad he is for three paragraphs to suggest that I can take him with the last pick of my draft is a waste of your time.

  9. Public Enemy #1 says:

    Sorry Smokey, can’t get on board for Burnett. I’d rather take any one of Edwin Jackson, Edinson Volquez, Anibal Sanchez or Jorge De La Rosa. Each of them have a floor that is in the neighborhood of what you’re projecting Burnett’s bounce back to be and can be had at similar draft value.

  10. p0rk burn says:

    Smokey, is that you next door with the sweet ’78 Gremlin? My trash day is Monday and Thursday too! BTW, your dog barks all night long and I’m going to feed it poisoned bacon.

  11. MikeInKC says:

    Good post Smokey, I took Burnett with the 300th pick of the draft, and I have a feeling he’ll be anything but Mr. Irrelevant this year. Hopefully he can start the season strong and I can “Barry Zito 2010” him to someone else in exchange for a player I actually like.

  12. JoeC says:

    Ewww… no.

    AJ Burnett was taken in the 24th round of my 13 team, 5×5 draft. Pitchers taken after him include Chris Young, JA Happ, Tim Stauffer, Wade Davis, Brian Duensing, Randy Wells, Bud Norris, Justin Duchersererserrrersrsrerrer, and, my choice and last pick of the draft, R.A. Dickey.

    I think I would take about half of those pitchers before I’d take Burnett. I think he is who we think he is: a no longer good pitcher who is being drafted on name skills alone. He’s just way too hittable and I think an ERA above 5 is not out of the question at all.

    Him and Josh Beckett should retire and open a dry goods store together or something.

  13. tourinct says:

    I’ve been grabbing Bedard as that late round flyer, though have thought about Burnett.

  14. KeeblerMN says:

    Good post Smokey, but I think I’m going to disagree.
    It’s clear Burnett is on the back side of his career.
    The past three years his Wins, K’s and innings pitched have all gone down while his WHIP, ERA and age have all risen. I don’t think he’s about to reverse course on most of those… especially the age thing.
    Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think I’d call a 4.66 xFIP ERA “serviceable”… I don’t even think I’d call it “workman-like”. You say “So examining his numbers deeper there seems to be only one problem, he got hit and hit hard.” Um…. for a pitcher, that’s not… how do I say it… good.
    To top this off, the AL EAST is scary this year! Even Baltimore looks STACKED! I’m staying far, far away from Burnett.

  15. OaktownSteve

    OaktownSteve says:

    Dead cat bounce?

  16. Jackson says:

    Grey: Please validate my low self esteem and tell me you like my team in a 12-team, 5×5 (obp instead of average) league:

  17. carlos marmLOL says:

    ha, i too was tempted by Burnett only to have Bedard available for a DL opening. The thing is Burnett will flash brilliance but torture you slowly diarrheaing on your categories while Bedard will simply crumble to dust after 6 starts. I prefer to rip the bandage off my arm hair fast.

  18. Reality says:

    In general, people pay far too much attention to last year. Especially people who quote numbers without understanding the player behind them.

    This guy is a career 4 ERA, 180+ K player. Without injury, guys with a track record do not turn into a 5.3 ERA 140 K players overnight. He’s streaky – going from unhittable to unwatchable and back – but at the end of his seasons, he has his 12-13 wins, his 4 ERA and his 180+ K’s. He’s not the anchor of your staff but as your #4 or #5 starter, he’s serviceable with the potential to be a bargain.

    In short, if you think he’s finished and would rather have RA Dickey ahead of him, I hope you’re in my money leagues.

  19. Tom Thumb says:

    Hey everyone,

    In a league where OF help is desperately needed, how does my Greinke for his Brett Myers and Abreu look?

  20. anarchy burger says:

    12 team 5×5 keeper league. i kept latos because he was a 17th rounder. i want him off my team. i just offered him for morrow but i’m sure the guy wont do it. latos still has a round of 10 on him for next year. who should i target for an sp?? would minor be enough??? hes a 16th round keeper next year. i gotta get latos out of my life fast. what do you guys think?????????

  21. JMonte says:

    10 Team Mixed 5×5. Looking for Thoughts on my Roster: Pick # to Right

    C Montero, Miguel(C) ARI 186
    1B Votto, Joey(1B) CIN 15
    2B Uribe, Juan(2B,3B,SS) LA R
    3B McGehee, Casey(3B) MIL 135
    SS Tulowitzki, Troy(SS) COL 6
    MI Andrus, Elvis(SS) TEX 66
    CI Loney, James(1B) LA R
    OF Holliday, Matt(OF) STL 26
    OF Kemp, Matt(OF) LA 35
    OF Lind, Adam(OF) TOR 166
    OF Pence, Hunter(OF) HOU 86
    OF Rasmus, Colby(OF) STL 106
    U Span, Denard(OF) MIN 195

    B Utley, Chase(2B) PHI 175
    B Morales, Kendrys(1B) ANA 146
    B Crisp, Coco(OF) OAK R

    Active Pitchers
    P Chacin, Jhoulys(P) COL 215
    P Gallardo, Yovani(P) MIL 46
    P Gonzalez, Gio(P) OAK 115
    P Hanrahan, Joel(P) PIT 206
    P Hudson, Daniel(P) ARI 155
    P Liriano, Francisco(P) MIN 55
    P Marmol, Carlos(P) CHC 75
    P Pineda, Michael(P) SEA R
    P Thornton, Matt(P) CHW 126

    B Greinke, Zack(P) MIL 95

    Teams really shyed away from Kendrys and Utley so I couldnt help taking them in 15th and 17th.

    If they’re out for extended amount of time, how long do i stay with the replacements i took for them before trying to upgrade?

    Thanks ion advance!!!

  22. byrone says:

    when did 4.66 become “serviceable”??

    playin with my fantasy baseball is like playin with my emotions, smokey.

  23. Buddo Chezuski says:

    Well he certainly can’t get any worse than last year! I think he’ll have a moderate bounceback. Some leagues he’ll be irrelevant but definitely a good post.

    Who would you guys add as a bench/possible UTIL out of the following. OPS is an extra category:

    Ibanez, Berkman, Chipper, Marlon Byrd, Willingham, Logan Morrison, David Murphy

  24. Trip Wildhack says:

    Word coming out that B. Lidge is out 3-6 weeks…so he’s becoming more of a brain fart pick than a brain freeze pick…

  25. Dom says:

    @Jacson – hitting looks good, but I don’t like you 2B/SS/MI guys. Pitching is ok, Latos worries me

  26. Al says:

    Yo Grey, I’m in a standard 5×5 12-team mixer and here’s my squad:

    c – weiters
    1b Howard
    2b kinsler
    3b Alvarez
    ss Reyes
    IF Reynolds
    of Lind
    of Adam jones
    of vlad Guerrero
    of tabata
    ut Aaron hill

    sp Lilly
    sp Dan Hudson
    sp Brett Anderson
    sp wandy
    sp kuroda
    rp broxton
    rp Chris perez
    rp Gregg
    rp venters
    rp Francisco Cordero

    b jhoulys chacin
    b Jordan Zimmerman
    b edinson volquez
    b Ryan raburn
    b pete bourjos

    So I know the infield has a lot of injury risk and batting average risk and the outfield is a little underwhelming. And I’ve probably got too many Orioles, but what do you think? Where am I going to need help and what should I give up to get it?


  27. Mike says:

    Here’s the thing with your WHIP, once you screw it up it’s hard to get it back. Everyone starts with a WHIP of 0.00. Once you violate that sanctity and start the inevitable climb north of 3.30, you have royally screwed up your WHIP. And like any former virgin knows, putting her back in the convent usually just makes things worse.

    WHIP is a controllable stat. Maybe not as much as steals and saves, but very controllable. Good fantasy teams keep the WHIP holy.

    This is why you don’t a freakazoid like Burnett on any of your teams. He violates the sanctity of that WHIP. He is a WHIP deflowerer par excellence. For the say, 4 more wins and 35 Ks that Burnett gives you over a Brett Anderson, carry a middle reliever instead. One that doesn’t violate the you-know-what.

  28. LMack says:

    I think the backlash towards the Burnett post is due to an underlying draft day philosophy that many fantasy baseballers have.

    People (often times myself included) don’t want to draft “reliable” back end starters in the late rounds. People want upside at the end of their draft. Upside, upside, upside. Fantasy baseballers reckon that the Burnetts of the world will be available on the WW into the spring months, so why waste a draft pick on em?

    But there is indeed some value, however un-sexy it may be, in drafting AJ Burnett in deeper leagues. Good post Smokey.

  29. A Hill O' Beans says:

    Since Lidge looks like he’s out till after the All Star break…..would you drop Venters to pick up Contreras?

  30. Wake Up says:

    I like Burnett for a bounce back year too. 13 wins, 170 K’s sounds about right. Era around 4.00 and some WHIP issues due to lack of control. I got him late as a #5. He’s the guy that goes out an throws a 2 hitter and follows it up with 5ER in 4IP.

  31. Sean A. says:

    @Smokey: With the Treanor trade how many more at-bats do you see Napoli getting?
    If Michael Young gets traded mid year, does Napoli become the full-time DH?
    Grey has him predicted for 24 home runs, but doesn’t refer to his number of at-bats and I’m not sure how recently it has been updated.
    As another reference…inaccurate as they tend to be…on ESPN they have him projected for 18 homeruns over 297 at-bats. Using ESPN, if he were to get 100 more at-bats due to the trade, do you think he could hit 23-25 homeruns?
    (Posted this under Mondo Ogando first…just curious about your opinion, cause I’m thorough like that.)

  32. byrone says:

    I can only speak for myself, but u are dead wrong on what’s behind the “backlash”.

    and I’ll tell u what it really is. I love this blog, and that the one worst piece if advice I’ve ever read here. Burnett is a bounceback candidate? no. ppl come here for what? mostly respected, credible opinions, and advice. who’s gonna take advice from someone telling you to draft aj burnett??

    aj is a bounceback candidate like Freddy Garcia and bartolo colon.

  33. Mike says:

    @lmack Burnett is “reliable” at one thing: and that’s destroying your WHIP. He’s a radioactive cancer, if that’s possible.

  34. Mike says:

    Just from the the last 3 seasons, WHIP: 1.34, 1.40, 1.51. And that’s trending in the wrong direction. The 1.34 year (2008) he went 18-10 with 231 Ks.

    That’s Ted Lilly + Tyler Clippard = and a 1.12 WHIP

  35. Reality says:

    @ JoeC

    RA Dickey is not a rookie. He’s been terrible for a decade and had one good year – last year. In fact, he’s 36 and has been in and out of the big leagues for the better part of 10 years.

    In his bad year last year, AJ Burnett had one fewer win and more K’s by a ton. Ratio wise, AJ’s bad year numbers last year (5.26 ERA and 1.511 WHIP) are pretty close to RA Dickey’s career ERA and WHIP (4.70 and 1.47).

    I’ll take AJ, you can have Dickey and any bet you want in the 4 starter based categories (W, K, ERA, WHIP). Any bet you want, as long as both throw at least 150 IP.

  36. Dave says:

    I agree with byrone and many others … this is the first article i’ve read on this site made me lose respect. Very poor logic, sounds more like smokey is trying to catch lightning in a bottle for no good reason

  37. jpm says:

    Hey guys, I autodrafted Jason Bay in one of my leagues (standard 6×6, 12 teams). I am not a fan and the news today he may start the season on the DL doesn’t help. He’s on my bench now, and I’m thinking of dropping him for a guy with less history but more upside. Should I hold on or drop him for Belt or Trumbo?

  38. 15 Per Cent says:

    Hi all,

    Was wondering if you could give some feedback on this trade…

    I give Colby Rasmus and Dan Haren

    I get Ryan Braun and Jhoulys Chacin

  39. Steve says:

    Gotta remember we’re talking about a “low-end 4th fantasy starter” as Smokey says and you’re taking him real late in a draft.

    Of course there’s a chance he won’t work out, but it’s not like it’s going to cost a lot to find out.

  40. McBainus says:

    @JoeC: I will bet real money that Burnett beats him in K’s. That is all.

  41. Operation Shutdown says:

    The D train actually runs underground in that part of the Bronx. The train that you’re referring to — that can be seen occasionally on TV just beyond the outfield — is the 4 train.

    Other than that, nice post. I think Burnett’s a solid buy this year.

  42. Harley says:

    @Grey: I apologize in advance because I hate when other posters do this, but can you let me know what you think of this team. 12 team 5×5 roto with daily line-up changes and no max. innings (only max. starts 200)

    C – Iannetta
    1B – Teixeira
    2B – Wigginton
    SS – Hanley Ramirez
    3B – AROD
    CI – Kila
    MI – Castro
    OF – Bruce
    OF – Snider
    OF – Crisp
    OF – Manny
    OF – Span
    Util – Lind

    P – Hamels
    P – Haren
    P – Liriano
    P – Billingsley
    P – Brett Anderson
    P – Edwin Jackson
    P – Broxton
    P – Nunez
    P – Hanrahan
    P – Chapman

    B – Russell Martin (daily line-up changes so getting catcher starts is important)
    B – Bard, Gregerson, Sean Burnett, Romo, Balfour, Francisco

    My thought with all the middle relievers is that since there is no innings max and only a starts max, I can use as many as possible on days my SP aren’t set to start.

    I know my offense is a little weak, but do you think I need to improve power or speed?

    Thanks in advance

  43. noseeum says:

    “I apologize in advance because I hate when other posters do this”

    @Harley: You’re basically saying, “I hate when other people do this, but clearly my team is important enough to the rest of the world to justify my own post.”

    Hilarious. And no, it’s not. LOL.

  44. noseeum says:

    Now onto the topic of Burnett. Gene McCaffrey from Wise Guy Baseball was on the March 19th Baseball HQ Radio podcast speaking about Burnett.

    I liked what he said, which was basically that Burnett does nothing well other than have great stuff. Here’s where he stinks:
    -He is at the top of the leaderboard every year in hit batsmen and wild pitches.
    -He can’t field his position well at all.
    -He walks too many guys, over 3.5/9

    Each of those weaknesses are not that big of a deal, but when they’re all thrown into one package, you have a pitcher whose margin for error is razor thin.

    Burnett needs much better than average stuff to succeed because he’s terrible at everything else. Each year his stuff gets closer to average than the year before.

    Avoid I say.

  45. Alex says:

    Burnett might be a bargain this year for his ADP. He might not be good. But he doesn’t warrant a standalone post on this otherwise awesome, amazing site. This is a heaping dose of Funston word-vomit.

  46. noseeum says:

    “I agree somewhat, but he has some of the best arsenal of pitches and others who watch him pitch say the same thing. He is a head case, plain and simple. But has the goods with pitches.”

    @smokey, Don’t you think you could find a similar sentence written about Burnett every year since he became a major leaguer? At one point do you just say, “He is what he is”?

    He’s 34 years old.
    His fastball velocity has gone from 95.9 in 2007 to 93.1 in 2010. What makes you think that trend will change? And what makes you think he’s got the ability to adjust when most seasons he was pitching 96, he was STILL a league average pitcher?

    I just don’t think he can be compared to the typical pitcher. Sure, the average guy can be a very very good pitcher with a 93 MPH fastball. That doesn’t mean Burnett can though.

  47. Mr2Bits says:

    Looks like Smokey just tea bagged everyone who bashed him on this thread.

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