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The Debate Among Baltimore Orioles Fans: A.J. Burnett or Bronson Arroyo?

February 1st, 2014 at 7:30 AM
By Josh Michael

The Baltimore Orioles need starting pitching, that is not breaking news whatsoever and the two guys on the free agent market that Baltimore would, could and should go after are Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett. It has been quite a debate among Orioles' fans as to which guy would be the fit for Baltimore, thus we thought we would lay out the facts and let you decide.

'A.J. Burnett' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Baltimore has been rumored and to be in on Arroyo as soon as free agency began, and all along we knew the Orioles would be interested in Burnett if he decided to pitch in 2014, which he has, so which guy is the better fit?

Burnett, who lives in Monkton, MD, has a 3.99 career ERA with a record of 147-132 over the course of 15 big league seasons and has shown a great deal of consistency and durability. Burnett has won at least 10 games in each of the last nine seasons and has made at least 25 starts in eight of those nine seasons, which includes seven seasons with at least 30 starts. Innings? He piles them up too as he has worked at least 186 innings in seven of the past nine seasons.

A.J. ranked second in ground ball rate and fourth in strikeout rate last season among all qualifiers, which are two things that are almost a must to succeed in Camden Yards. In addition, he has allowed less than one home run (0.9) per nine innings pitched and has struck out 8.3 batters per nine innings pitched over the course of his 15 year career. 

Arroyo has pitched 200 or more innings every season but one since 2005 and that one season he didn't, he threw 199 innings. In addition, he has also made 29 or more starts every season since 2004, and Baltimore could certainly use an arm like that in their rotation as much as their bullpen has been overworked these past two seasons.

Bronson is not just an innings eater, he is a quality pitcher as well. He may not be that ace the team needs, but he is certainly a solid number two who has boasted a sub four ERA in four of the last five seasons for the Cincinnati Reds. He currently boasts a career 4.19 ERA over 14 seasons in the big leagues and that number would be much lower if not for his first two seasons in Pittsburgh in 2000, 2001. Over his career, Arroyo has allowed 1.2 home runs per nine innings and struck out 5.8 batters per nine innings.

'Bronson Arroyo 03' photo (c) 2009, SD Dirk - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

On the forefront it appears that Burnett is slightly better on paper, especially for Camden Yards as he sports a much higher strikeout rate and allows fewer homers per nine innings as well with a lower career ERA. Arroyo has shown more durability than Burnett has, although both pitchers do not have any issue with durability.

So it must obviously be Burnett right? Well let's dig a little deeper.

Burnett sports a career 1.315 WHIP and has walked 3.7 hitters per nine innings, as opposed to Arroyo who has a 1.292 career WHIP and walks just 2.5 per nine innings. Those are two key stats that Arroyo proves to be better in than Burnett, so the question would be in you are more comfortable with a guy who strikes more people out, but allows more runners on base, or a guy who strikes out fewer guys, but does not allow as many runners on?

Both guys will be 37 when the season begins, both have pitched in the AL East, neither guy is looking for a long term deal, and neither would cost the Orioles a draft pick which is why these two are the ones at the top of the list for Baltimore as opposed to guys like Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. The numbers are very close between Arroyo and Burnett and it doesn't appear that the Birds could go wrong with signing either guy, thus in the end it would appear it would come down to the final dollar amounts that it will take to sign either pitcher. Baltimore has money to spend and if they do not land either Burnett or Arroyo, the Orioles' fan base may erupt in anger.

Let the debate ensue, would you rather have Burnett or Arroyo?


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Tags: A.J. Burnett, Baltimore, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana, MLB, Ubaldo Jimenez

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