A.J. Burnett has made 320 plate appearances in his career. He somehow managed to avoid getting out in 17.3% of those times at the plate. Since leaving the National League in 2005, Burnett has made only 20 plate appearances. He’s collected a single hit from those opportunities.

Now that he’s moving back to the National League to pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he’ll have to step into the batter’s box more regularly. At Pirates’ camp today, he was practicing just that, when a bunt attempt resulted in a foul ball hitting him right in the kisser.

Momentarily dazed, Burnett dropped into a crouch at the plate after the ball struck his face. As he was examined by an athletic trainer, Burnett joked, “Where did the bone go?”

We can laugh primarily because it happened to A.J. Burnett, but also because the injury wasn’t serious.

Of note is Burnett’s 2000 season when, despite his career numbers, he led all pitchers in baseball (with at least 20 plate appearances) with a .376 wOBA. He even hit a home run that year.

Comments (7)

  1. It feels weird to say, but now that he’s not on the Yankees, and more specifically now that he’s on the Pirates, I kind of like AJ again.

  2. His last year in Toronto, when he went 18-10 with 231 strikeouts, was a treat to watch. Too bad he wasted his talent so much. But hey, the man’s going to finish his MLB career with something like $130-$150 million in his pocket. Not bad for a chronic underachiever. I probably wouldn’t bust my ass too much if my boss said, “hey, let’s guarantee paying him $300,000 a year for the next few years because he was potential, with no consequences for poor performance.”

    On another note, why are pitchers so bad at hitting? I’ll admit, I have no idea how frequently pitchers hit in the minors, if at all, but right up until college they hit all the time. Funny how something so vital for most of your baseball playing life goes by the wayside. The funniest was Livan Hernandez though. He’d step up to the dish with a stance and nonchalance that implied he’d never touched a bat in his life, and then he’d crush it over the wall. Strategy?

    • The fact that most pitchers – who by and large are elite athletes themselves – suck at hitting speaks volumes as to how difficult it must be to hit major league quality pitching.

    • I think there comes a time where people should remember that command and control doesn’t necessarily come…even if you have the best velocity and movement in the universe and really put work into it. And I think it’s unfair to label AJ as underachiever, if all his career he put up consistent inconsistency, then this is who he is as a pitcher. There’s no talent that is being wasted

    • Pitchers don’t hit at all in Rookie and A-ball, then only if both teams are NL affiliates in AA and AAA (and in the PCL only then if both teams feel like it!).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Designated_hitter#The_designated_hitter_outside_Major_League_Baseball

      It’s not surprising that even pitchers who were once good hitters as amateurs suck because they see so little live pitching as pros.

      Hitting major-league pitchers is hard enough without having taken a few years off hitting in the low minors, then maybe hit sporadically in the higher levels, only to get a few ABs every five days if you’re a starter and only when you’re in the NL.

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