Sheets and Burnett

AJ Burnett is widely considered the best pitcher on the market. Some how he is going to make $80mm over the next five years either in Atlanta or the Bronx. However, all of the media and the Yankee and Atlanta front offices are wrong. Yes, I am challenging all of those "great" baseball minds. Here is why Ben Sheets is the best available pitcher, NOT AJ Burnett.

Sheets is about a year and half younger than Burnett.

Let's look at some stats from the past couple of seasons.


Sheets Burnett
04 2.70 3.68
05 3.33 3.44
06 3.82 3.98
07 3.82 3.75
08 3.09 4.07

So out of four of the past 5 years, Sheets has had a better ERA. And this year his ERA was better by almost a whole run


Sheets Burnett
04 1.01 1.17
05 0.75 1.26
06 0.87 1.30
07 0.75 1.19
08 1.00 1.34

So Sheets has had a better WHIP than Burnett each of the past 5 years. And by a wide margin.


Sheets Burnett
04 8.25 2.97
05 5.64 2.51
06 10.55 3.03
07 2.86 2.67
08 3.36 2.69

4 out of the last 5 years Sheets has had a better strikeout to walk ration that Burnett.

So by the averages, Sheets is a much better pitcher than Burnett.

People may point to durability, so here are the Games Started and Innings pitched for Sheets and AJ.

Sheets Burnett
04 34 19
05 22 32
06 17 21
07 24 25
08 31 34

Burnett has made more starts each of the past 4 years but the past three he's only made 4, 1, and 3 more starts respectively.

Sheets Burnett
04 237 120
05 156 209
06 106 135.2
07 144.1 165.2
08 198.1 221.1

Again, AJ's pitched a few more innings over the past 4 years.

So the question comes down to would we rather have a couple more starts from a pitcher with less talent(AJ has LESS talent. If you don't believe me go back up to the stats.) or a couple starts less from a pitcher with superior talent? It seems like a no-brainer to me. I would rather have 25 great starts than 28 good, but not great starts. In an environment like the AL East where the Yanks constantly face phenomenal pitching (Beckett, Lester, Dice-K, Kazmir, Shields, Garza, Halladay, McGowan) I would prefer to have someone with more talent on the mound in those types of pitching duels. When you factor in the likely contracts, Burnett for $80mm/5 years or Sheets for$45mm/3 years, there is no reason why we should take Burnett. From another point of view we could get Sheets from ages 30-33 or Burnett from ages 32-36. I'd much rather have a pitcher in his prime years than one in his declining years. Others may argue that Sheets isn't healthy right now since he missed the end of the season with a tear in his flexor tendon by his right elbow. Girardi said after meeting with him that he thought Sheets was healthy, but Girardi isn't exactly open about injuries. Either way, Sheets will be able to contribute to whatever team he plays for next year, and he'll probably perform better than Burnett. He has more talent and should be treated like it.

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