Hughes and Burnett: Stock Way Down

With the Yankees trading for Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda this past weekend, the fantasy values of both A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes took huge nose dives. While both did not even have decent 2011 seasons, they were looking to rebound in 2012. With the additional pitchers added, Hughes and Burnett should have little fantasy value to start the season.

CC Sabathia is entrenched as the ace of the staff. Ivan Nova should have one of the other spots in the rotation locked down. Pineda and Kuroda will have the final 2 spots since the Yankees inclined to show off their shiny new toys. Only one more spot is left to be filled. Even when one of the two wins the job, it will be just the 5th spot and likely skipped over a few times throughout the season. The other pitcher will probably be regulated to long relief. While both struggled last season, there are some positive signs for them this up coming season.

Phil Hughes started the season off horribly. In his first 3 starts, he had a 13.94 ERA, 2.23 WHIP, 2.6 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. His fastball had lost 3 PMH, 92 to 89, and he was sent to the DL with an arm injury. After returning from the DL with a 92 MPH fastball, he posted a 4.55 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 6.4 K/9. These numbers were not as good as he had in 2010, but respectable. If he is able to keep his fastball around 92 MPH, he could have a decent 2012 season.

A.J. Burnett‘s woes in 2012 (5.15 ERA) came from a crazy high 17% HR/FB rate. He may have been the most unlucky starter in the league. By comparison, His xFIP (3.86) was similar to Matt Cain (3.78) and Jered Weaver (3.80). He has shown some signs of decline with his fastball getting slower each year since 2007 (95.1 MPH to 92.7 MPH). Even with the drop in velocity, he looks to be a decent #3 to #5 starter for most teams.

The Yankees are not taking any chances that the two will rebound. They don’t have to, they are the Yankees. There is some hope for the pair though. Historically, around 40% of all starting pitchers will end up on the DL at some point during the season. There is a decent chance that one or both could move into one of the top 4 rotation spots. Also, one of the other 4 pitchers could produce horribly and Hughes or Burnett could move higher into the rotation.

With the Yankees newest starting pitching additions, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett look to be the odd men out. They have a chance to move up in the rotation, but there are no guarantees. I would not spend more than a late round pick on them. Ignore the headache of missing starts or long reliever stats and get some pitchers that are making regular starts instead of this pair.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

10 Responses to “Hughes and Burnett: Stock Way Down”

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  1. Zozo says:

    That second paragraph could use a rewrite…

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  2. Dave Shovein says:

    Are we forgetting that they brought back Freddy Garcia also?

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    • JimNYC says:

      Yeah, I’m thinking that Garcia’s about 80% certain to take that spot, with Hughes going to the bullpen and Burnett getting traded, with the Yankees eating 90% of his outstanding salary.

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  3. Freddy Garcia says:

    Don’t count me out! I would say that Nova, Hughes, Burnett and Garcia will be competing for 2 spots. While Nova performed well, he can bide his time in AAA while the Yankees try to extract any value out of the eventual losers of this battle. My guess is that both Burnett and Hughes start the season in the rotation with Garcia as the long man. If Burnett can show any value they can trade him for some other team’s overpaid DH. Hughes will either shine or be moved to the bullpen/NL West (where he will win 16 games immediately).

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  4. rpg006 says:

    Nobody should be drafting Burnett regardless of whether he starts or not… I don’t even draft him in a 15 team league

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  5. rpg006 says:

    rotation should be Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda, Nova, Garcia… barring trades/releases. Hughes and/or Burnett making the rotation would be a bit of a shocker

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  6. TheWrightStache says:

    Isn’t it a bit misleading to use Cain and Weaver as your two xFIP comparisons to Burnett? You chose two guys who have been very consistent with having ERAs significantly below their xFIPs (the Cain enigma more so, but Weaver has done it every season but one), which is a skill/trait that Burnett has not shown. I think this might be setting the bar a bit high for A.J., results-wise, as he very well could match those dudes in xFIP again and still be a significantly inferior pitcher (even with the HR/FB% regression).

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  7. rpg006 says:

    I agree completely, Stache… totally different types of pitchers…

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  8. Reuben Amaro Jr says:

    Hey Freddy, how about returning some of the money you stole from our organization, you fraud???!!!

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    • Freddy Garcia says:

      Listen Rueben, if you want me to work it off, I’m sure the Yankees would be willing to send me over there, for say Cliff Lee? Make it happen.

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