Real Story of AJ Burnett’s Stats on Short Rest

If you’ve read AJ Burnett’s stats on short rest on this blog or others you probably read this line:

4 G, 4-0 record, 2.33 ERA, 27 IP, 19 H, 2 HR, 10 BB, 24 K’s, 1.07 WHIP.

That’s because it is easier to go to Baseball-Reference.com and pull up those numbers than to go through the game logs dating back to 1999. I am guilty of doing this, but as I found out today Baseball Reference is no infallible, I know I didn’t expect it either. The problem is BBR counted two of his starts on short rest after starts that were not what we’d expect.

Allow me to explain. You see, Burnett’s first start on short rest technically occurred on July 4, 2004 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays where he went 7.2 IP allowed 3 ER, on 6 H, 0 BB, and 6 K. The problem with this information is that his previous start, just three days earlier, was a game against the Atlanta Braves where Burnett was knocked out after just one inning thanks to rain delays.

Another start, on April 20, 2008 against the Detroit Tigers, on three days rest Burnett threw 5 IP allowing 3 ER on 4 H, 6 BB, and 4 K. The issue with this start that doesn’t make it a true start on short rest, he had just thrown one inning in the 14th inning against the Texas Rangers just three days before.

That doesn’t mean Burnett hasn’t had success on short rest. Twice last season the Blue Jays called upon him to pitch big games against the Yankees and Red Sox on short rest and both times he pitched brilliantly.

On July 13, 2008 Burnett went 8.1 innings, allowed one earned run on six hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts against the Yankees.

Then on September 13, 2008 Burnett went six innings, allowed zero earned runs on three hits, three walks, and six strikeouts.

That would make his true line on short rest:

2 G, 2-0 record, 0.63 ERA, 14.1 IP, 9 H, 1 HR, 4 BB, 14 K, 0.91 WHIP.

So his true experience was two starts against the Red Sox and Yankees last season where he pitched brilliantly. We are left with just two starts, a shorter sample size, but much better numbers.

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