In a recent piece from River Ave Blues’ Joe Pawlikowski, Joe points to A.J. Burnett‘s ground ball rate from 2009, noting it as problematic. Last season, Burnett posted a career low in ground ball rate at 42.8%, which is significantly under his career average of 49.5% (a mark that was subsequently dragged down as a result of the career low). This, obviously, is not a positive development, as pitchers are best served keeping batted balls on the ground. However, this specific percentage was not the only troubling number posted by Burnett in his first season with the Yankees.
Inversely connected to his career low in ground ball inducement was Burnett’s career high in fly ball percentage. His 39.2% mark – roughly 7% higher than his career mark of 32.0% – was actually the peak, thus far, of a four-year trend, in which Burnett’s fly ball rate has increased since 2006. In a ballpark such as Yankee Stadium, the fly ball rate, in particular, is rather disconcerting. The pattern discerned in fly ball rate, along with a two-year drop-off in ground ball percentage, makes me wonder whether or not Burnett is actually becoming more of a fly ball pitcher. His 32.9% rate in 2009 was the eleventh highest in the American League and, if the trend continues, things could get ugly.
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