Originally written on Fantasy Sports Locker Room  |  Last updated 2/14/14

Weeks ago, it seemed as if AJ Burnett would hold to his presumed Pittsburgh or bust position regarding a return to the MLB in 2014 but a sudden change in heart (evidently spurred by a rift with the team over last season’s extension offer) opened up a market for the veteran righty’s services, culminating in his agreement Wednesday to a 16 million dollar deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Not long ago it looked like he was going to call it a career, so the decision adds a little more depth (he’s just one arm…) to the SP pool this season. He’ll stay in Pennsylvania, and most importantly from a fantasy perspective he’ll stay in the NL, but Burnett won’t be with the Pirates this year. 2013 Results: AJ Burnett Over the last two seasons, Burnett threw nearly 400 innings for the Pirates and posted ERAs of 3.51 and 3.30 in back to back years after four straight (American League) seasons with a number above 4 and two straight over 5. In 2013, the then 36 year old logged 191 innings with noted 3.30 ERA, 1.215 WHIP and 9.8 K/9 with a 3.21 K/BB ratio, both career highs – all numbers were improved over 2012, and yet he finished the season at 10-11 after winning 16 games the season prior. Those 10 Ws limited Burnett’s fantasy value, but he was a bit of a hard luck loser last year and (we’re he staying in Pittsburgh) those number shouldn’t be used to make any projections about 2014. He pitched well enough to win 15 games for a strong Pirates team, the chips just didn’t fall that way. Burnett wasn’t just strong in 2013, he bordered on dominant, which is something that a lot of 36 year old pitchers completing their 15th big league season can’t say. Consider this: of the 801 batters he faced last year, more than a quarter of them (26.1%) struck out. That helped, as did a low HR/FB ratio, and the fact that he fared well at keeping the ball out of the air in general. His 56.5% ground ball rate was about the same as 2012 (56.9%) but both are considerably higher than the numbers produced in the three previous seasons with New York. In recent years, Burnett has relied more on a strong curveball than his fastball, not uncommon of an aging pitcher. His curveball has improved during that timeframe as well, which is what is allowing him to gain effectiveness late in his career – last year, the pitch finished +20 wins above average which is very much on the high side of the spectrum for a pitch. 2014 Outlook: AJ Burnett For a product of 90s/2000s baseball, it seems strange to say it but pitching in Philadelphia won’t be as valuable from a fantasy perspective as pitching in Pittsburgh. We noted that Burnett only got 10 wins last season, but those came on a Pirates team that won 21 more games than their cross-state peers and is generally expected to stay strong in 2014, while Philadelphia will be working to climb back above .500 and into relevance in the playoff picture. Beyond that, it is fair to note that Burnett will now be throwing against NL East opponents who scored a combined 247 runs fewer than NL Central teams last season (with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia removed). That may be a bit of an improvement, but overall the move is still a negative – particularly when you consider that he’ll be pitching half his games in a home park that ranks 18 spots higher than PNC park in terms of runs allowed, and is ranked the easiest stadium in the bigs to homer in by park factors (Pittsburgh was 2nd last). Throwing in Citizen’s Bank Park won’t help Burnett a bit. Still, after two strong season’s in Pittsburgh he’s a very draftable player. We’re going to have to account for an inflation in ERA and home runs, and 9.8 K/9 isn’t sustainable with a strong curve alone, but if Burnett can get to the same inning’s range again this season, a 12-12 campaign with a 3.60 ERA and 185 strikeouts is well within reach, ranking him as a strong back end fantasy rotation option. One thing for owners to keep in mind as the year progresses with Burnett: depending on how things play out in Philly, he could find himself being dealt to a contender mid-summer. The post Faces in new places: AJ Burnett changes tune, signs with Phillies appeared first on Fantasy Sports Locker Room.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Lawyer who litigated against NFL: Brady plays every game

Cowboys should sign interested RB Steven Jackson

Jameis Winston confirmed as Buccaneers starting QB

Russell Wilson contract increases likelihood of change

Jim Harbaugh doesn’t care if he’s popular

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Johnny Manziel struggles in first day of Browns camp

Report: Wilson, Seahawks agree to four-year, $86.7M contract

Report: Former Jets exec leaked false Deflategate info to ESPN

Belichick on sticking it to NFL: 'Really not very important to me'

Yankees, Astros reportedly both pursuing Craig Kimbrel

Urban Meyer hints JT Barrett leads Ohio State starting QB competition

Redskins making huge mistake by signing Junior Galette

New Blue Jay David Price got a flat tire on his way to Toronto

Five of the worst baseball trades since 2000

Famed ballboy Red Lightning spotted at Falcons camp

Rickie Fowler aces final hole, treats media to free beers

SEC remains college football's best conference

The Rock 'pretty disappointed,' but defends Hulk Hogan

Urban Meyer will make us wait on OSU's starting QB decision

Compelling camp competitions: #5 Bradford vs. Sanchez

Five most overrated NFL players heading into 2015 season

Giants acquire Mike Leake from Reds for two prospects

Twins closer's wife pens essay about Twitter hate he's enduring

Phillies News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

David Price traded to Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Can Preller fix the mess in San Diego?

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Who is the NL's new top shortstop?

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Mets still act like a small-market team

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker