- This post is not related to the health of A.J. Burnett's back, as some would infer from the title. Rather, after spending almost an eternity on the DL, Burnett will make his first start in over two months tonight. He fared well in the minors, posting great totals across the board:
IP ERA WHIP K/BB
19 1.64 0.895 22/6
Although minor league stats are normally a good indicator of major league success, Burnett was clearly a man amongst boys. Until he excels at the highest level, we can't accurately gauge his level of play. His dominant production in the minor leagues does elicit a sense of optimism, however.
Tonight against the Braves, he'll face Horacio Ramirez, who is almost the complete antithesis of Burnett; he has very poor stuff, strikes out very few batters, and allows many more baserunners than innings pitched. The only thing Burnett and Ramirez seem to have in common is that they are frequent visitors to the disabled list.
A lot is made of Burnett's inability to rack up a lot of wins in spite of his overwhelming stuff. Ramirez should be used as an example of why that complaint holds no water, so to speak. He's compiled a .587 winning percentage (27-19 career record) despite absolutely awful peripherals. His ERA and W-L totals have been much lowers than his other statistics would suggest, and he's someone who projects to pitch very poorly in the future. Burnett, on the other hand, only has a .490 winning percentage (49-51 career record), but his other statistics, virtually across the board, are vastly superior to Ramirez's. In Burnett's case, he was unfortunate to have played on some awful Marlins teams, which stunted his win totals. Generally speaking, wins are one of the most luck-based statistics in the game, yet we feel a need to grant them a fair deal of legitimacy. The sole reason why Johan Santana, for example, was robbed of his second Cy Young award last season was because his won-lost record was much worse than Bartolo Colon's. The same unfairly occurred to Pedro Martinez several times during his career (2002, when he lost to Zito, for example). In fact, such voting errors have been so prevalent throughout the history of the sport that the main reason why Rob Neyer didn't include them in his Big Book of Baseball Blunders is likely because there wasn't enough available space in which to record them all.
- After spending the past two seasons in the National League, Carlos Delgado will make his return to Toronto tomorrow night as a member of the Mets. I believe he'll be the recipient of many, many cheers and relatively few, if any, boos. Not only did he contribute a great deal of production to the Blue Jays, but he was a model citizen who was codial with the press and he departed mostly due to management's ill will, not his own. Remember, Delgado displayed interest in re-signing with the Blue Jays following the 2004 seasons, but J.P. Ricciardi, hoping to trim down even more payroll, offered him a ridiculous two-year, $12 million dollar contract. Of course Delgado would sign elsewhere after receiving such a half-hearted offer, and the fans should not be bitter about it. In fact, the contract he signed with the Marlins is a relative bargain compared to some of the others that have been signed during recent offseasons. Since it was severely backloaded, the Marlins wound up only paying his $4 million before trading him to the Mets. So, in return for $4 million, they received a terrific season from Delgado and at least one great prospect (Yusmeiro Petit) from the Mets.
Delgado's Hall of Fame credentials are much more respectable than most people would think. If he manages to avoid a rapid late-career decline, he could find himself on the cusp of induction. His chances are heightened by the fact that, for the first time in his career, he finds himself on a large-market team. Moreover, his chances are somewhat hampered by the fact that he never won an MVP award despite having great seasons in 2000 and 2003. He could have easily won during either season.
Of course, it's rather premature to discuss his Hall of Fame merits, so I won't go into much more depth. However, he's 33 years old, he hits in the heart of the order of a championship-caliber team, and he's already amassed some great career totals. When his career ends, it's highly likely he'll belong in the same discussion as Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Todd Helton, Jim Thome, and perhaps even the notorious Jason Giambi.