After much anticipation, the trade that sent A.J. Burnett from the Yankees to the Pirates was finally completed on Sunday. Burnett had a tumultuous three seasons in the Bronx, with a 4.79 ERA and 4.5 walks/hit batters per nine over 584 regular-season innings.
His signature pitch is an 83 mph spike-curveball with exceptional movement. (Harry Pavlidis mentioned it here a few weeks ago—it’s not quite as nasty as Craig Kimbrel’s). Because he does a consistent job of keeping it below the strike zone, hitters don’t make much contact with the pitch when they swing at it, but it’s taken for a ball if when they don’t. The two tables below are for whiffs per swing and balls per pitch, minimum 2,500 pitches thrown dating back to 2007.
Rank Pitcher Pitch # Whiff% 1 A.J. Burnett Curveball 4575 43.9% 2 Cole Hamels Changeup 4158 43.8% 3 Rich Harden Changeup 3053 43.4% 4 Francisco Liriano Slider 2632 43.4% 5 Tim Lincecum Changeup 2946 42.9%
Rank Pitcher Pitch # Ball% 1 Randy Wolf Curveball 2562 44.2% 2 Gio Gonazlez Curveball 2663 43.2% 3 A.J. Burnett Curveball 4575 43.1% 4 Justin Verlander Curveball 3244 42.3% 5 Kevin Millwood Fastball 2718 41.2%
Pitch labels are THT’s.