Food For Thought: A.J. Burnett

The RAB Radio Show: March 3, 2011
Open Thread: March 3rd Camp Notes

Over the last three years, A.J. Burnett has hit 38 batters with pitches, the most in baseball. Twenty-one of those 38 batters were left-handed, or 55.3%. Right-handed pitchers around the league have about a 68%/32% split (RHB/LHB) on hit-by-pitches during that time, so Burnett’s clearly an outlier in that regard.

Those two heat maps above come courtesy of David Pinto at Baseball Analysts, and they show the general location of the pitches that have hit left-handed batters over those last three seasons. The graph on the left is the league average, the one on the right is Burnett. He’s not hitting these batters up high (around the shoulders, arms, and hands) like everyone else, he’s catching them down around the feet and ankles. Why? It’s the curveball, as Pinto shows in his post.

Thirteen of those 21 hit-by-pitches came with two strikes, which is why A.J. really goes to the hook. Hitting a batter is bad enough, but doing so in a two strike count is as infuriating as it gets. Hopefully those new mechanics get help straighten Burnett out, because free baserunners are a bad, bad thing.

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The RAB Radio Show: March 3, 2011
Open Thread: March 3rd Camp Notes
  • SCT

    So what you’re saying is that Frankie was taking BP while sitting in a chair when he got hit in the head? Either that or sitting.

    /Pedroia’d

    • SCT

      Or Golson rather…

      hangs head in shame….gets back to work.

  • CS Yankee

    That’s why he gets people mad…he doesn’t even know where or when to hit them.

  • Mister Delaware

    What gets me mad, besides this, is that its common to refer to a pitcher’s walk rate rather than their free pass rate or some other term for BB + HBP. Doesn’t make sense. HBP make up about 10% of free passes annually, a not insignificant amount, yet it gets completely ignored.

    Other things that get me mad: This recent run the Rangers are on.