Originally posted on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 2/13/14
When Phillies Nation posted the news of the Phillies signing of A.J. Burnett to our Facebook page yesterday, it was met with two responses: the wildly original and hilarious “another player to play in Senior Citizen’s Bank park!” response and the “why did the Phillies sign a pitcher when they have a horrible offense?” counter question. I have got no response for the first one other than that Burnett has had two of the best seasons of his career in 2012 and 2013 and that age probably won’t be a factor for him in 2014. The second question has some legitimate depth to it and it is worth exploring. While everyone assumes the quickest route to fixing the Phillies is through its offense, the tricky part is what spot do you improve? Four-fifths of the Phillies infield is currently locked under some sort of long-ish contract (think Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Ruiz) or protected by no trade clauses (think Jimmy Rollins) and the fifth spot, third base, is the one spot in the infield where the Phillies have a young player worth giving a shot. In the outfield, Domonic Brown and Ben Revere are two young players worth giving a shot to develop and the other corner, right field, is occupied by Marlon Byrd for two years. So even though the Phillies had the 26th best offense in baseball last year, 14th in the National League,  there just isn’t a whole lot of spaces to add offensive production. So the Phillies, presumably sensing an opportunity, or reacting to the news that Cole Hamels is behind schedule, added a pretty good pitcher to a suddenly barren rotation. Despite having Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels healthy for the entire season in 2013, the Phillies ranked 25th in ERA, 10th in FIP, and 13th in xFIP, while ranking 15th in K/9 IP and 13th in GB%. Burnett is an instant upgrade to all of those metrics. Throw your “why are the Phillies putting Burnett in a hitter’s ballpark” concerns away: last year, Burnett led the National League starters in K/9 IP and GB%. Why are ground balls so important? Because what goes in the air at Citizens Bank Park tends to leave Citizens Bank Park. In 2013, Citizens Bank Park ranked as the park most likely to see homer in but was average in allowing doubles and was actually a below-average place to get a hit. Phillies pitchers ranked 13th in forcing ground balls but also 13th in HR/FB – anything to increase the amount of groundballs decreases the likelihood of a flyball which increases the likelihood of a homer, particularly at baseball’s easiest park to hit a homer in, Citizens Bank Park. Got that? Burnett’s unique skill set (strike everyone out, get ground balls) would fit well anywhere but is of particular help in a ballpark that plays as wacky as CBP does. In a park that ranks 19th in “hit factor”, it is the sixth easiest park to score runs because, in large part, is the easiest park to hit homers in. Burnett is an absolute upgrade to the rotation and adds a third certain starter. Whether or not Burnett is the piece that puts them over the top of the Mets’ rotation (eighth-best ERA, seventh-best FIP, and 11th-best xFIP) remains to be seen.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Witten, Gronkowski engage in mutual admiration society

Thabo Sefolosha not guilty of nightclub incident charges

Tony Parker hopes to play 20 seasons with San Antonio Spurs

Pagano 'supremely confident' about chances vs. Pats

Nick Saban to Alabama fans: 'Don't have an arrogant attitude'

Kobe on 93rd ranking: ‘Don’t ask me about silly stuff like that’


Boomer Esiason: 49ers have ‘ruined’ Colin Kaepernick

Adrian Beltre ruled out for Game 2 of ALDS with back injury

Parise’s hat trick sparks comeback win in Wild’s opener

Report: Bill O’Brien won’t commit to Texans starting QB

Steve Sarkisian takes blame for USC loss to Washington

Dion Lewis signed extension to repay Patriots for giving him chance

Keegan-Michael Key dressed up as PSU's James Franklin

Colts fans planning to taunt Tom Brady with a blimp

‘Macarena’ used at practice to ready Rams defense for Rodgers

On fandom, leverage and emotional barometers

H.S. QB ‘inappropriately’ touched center, suspended

Harbaugh had troubled UM center move in with grandma

T.Y. Hilton trolled Texans fans with bye-bye wave

Chip Kelly-to-USC hype train has left the station

Blue Jays surprise nine-year-old fan who lost father to cancer

Kershaw-deGrom to rival Arrieta-Cole matchup

Green Bay's deceivingly stingy defense

Name every QB to play in the NFL at the age of 40

Matt Hasselbeck was ‘on his death bed’ before Texans game

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

‘Macarena’ used at practice to ready Rams defense for Rodgers

Harbaugh had troubled UM center move in with grandma

Blue Jays surprise nine-year-old fan who lost father to cancer

Name every QB to play in the NFL at the age of 40

Week 5 NFL power rankings

Vin Scully to miss the entire postseason

Putin celebrates birthday by scoring seven goals in hockey game

"Friday Night Lights" writer calls Chip Kelly a fraud

Women in sports this week: Is this 2015 or 1965?

Three reasons each AL team can win the pennant

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker