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%