Over at Baseball Prospectus, “Friend of Banter” Jay Jaffe looks at the “Disaster Starts” of A.J. Burnett:
Burnett is in a six-way tie for the major league lead in disaster starts, with eight. As originally defined by former Baseball Prospectus columnist Jim Baker, a disaster start is one in which a starter allows as many or more runs as innings pitched. It’s the ugly flip side of a quality start, one in which a pitcher goes at least six innings while allowing three or fewer runs—a disaster because teams rarely win such games, and because they often burn through their bullpens just trying to find enough mops and buckets to get through nine innings.
Occasionally, the disaster start definition is limited to allowing more runs as innings pitched, and because the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index makes querying the latter definition much easier than the former one, we’ll stick with that for the purposes of this dumpster dive. Here’s the 2010 leaderboard, the Masters of Disaster:
Rk Player Team DS Team W-L IP/GS RA 1 Paul Maholm PIT 8 0-8 3.3 19.91 A.J. Burnett NYA 8 0-8 3.4 18.67 Scott Kazmir LAA 8 0-8 4.5 13.38 Jonathon Niese NYN 8 2-6 4.4 12.99 Kyle Kendrick PHI 8 3-5 4.0 12.79 Justin Masterson CLE 8 0-8 4.8 12.08 7 Charlie Morton PIT 7 0-7 2.9 20.80 Joe Saunders 2TM 7 1-6 3.7 17.18 Kyle Lohse SLN 7 0-7 3.8 16.41 Brian Matusz BAL 7 2-5 3.3 15.26 Brad Bergesen BAL 7 1-6 3.8 15.19 Nick Blackburn MIN 7 1-6 3.8 14.70 Matt Garza TBA 7 1-6 4.2 13.04 Javier Vazquez NYA 7 3-4 4.2 11.83
. . . While it’s cold comfort to Yankees fans at the moment—perhaps less so now that they’ve clinched a playoff spot—the recently hapless Burnett rates as a pretty good pitcher in the grand scheme of things. Coming into this year, he’d put up a 3.83 ERA and 8.8 K/9 since 2004. He still misses bats at an above-average clip, his SIERA (4.42) is around league-average, but his BABIP (.323) is inflated; basically, he’s in a rut compounded by some bad luck. Thanks to the spaced-out schedule, he’s unlikely to get a first-round playoff start. He may just have painted his last disasterpiece of the season.