Ah, The “Win”

I’m watching the Tigers-Blue Jays game (Yankees got rained out, bummer), and the first thing I hear is:

“…and that’s why AJ Burnett is only one win over .500 for his career – because of his lack of control.”

My ears perked up. An immediate hypothesis struck me: Burnett is only one game above .500 in his career because he’s played on bad offensive teams (i.e. the Marlins). His “lack of control” is not at all the reason, I thought to myself. Time to investigate.

So after a minute-long search on baseballreference.com, it turns out that AJ Burnett has a career 112 ERA+ (which means he’s been 12% above average for his career). That’s pretty good. Career ERA of 3.77 – nice. He strikes out more than two batters for every one he walks (2.09:1 K/BB ratio). His career BB/9 is slightly higher than average, at 3.5. But his K/9 is also slightly higher than average, at 6.9. This evens it out, which fits into the larger scheme of things (Burnett’s 59-58 record).

He also played for the Marlins for most of his career. The Marlins’ winning percentages during Burnett’s time there were: .395, .491, .469, .488, .562, .512, .512. That’s an average of .489.

Their offense during these years ranked (out of 16 NL teams): 16th, 15th, 10th, 12th, 8th, 11th, and 8th. During AJ Burnett’s time there, his team never scored runs at an above-average rate. Their offense was always average or bad.

Burnett’s record with the Marlins was 49-50. That’s a winning percentage of .494, which is higher than his team’s winning percentage during that span. So, arguably, Burnett pitched well enough to overcome his team’s inability to score runs for him.

My hypothesis seems to have been proven correct – Burnett’s lack of run support is the reason for his .500ish winning percentage. I don’t expect the broadcasters to have done all this research. But because it’s, like, their job to explain baseball stuff to us, I expect them to look at Burnett’s record and go: “well, he played for Marlins for almost his entire career, and the Marlins usually suck, so that’s probably why Burnett’s record is mediocre”.

But no, it’s because his control is bad.

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