He was dominant from start to finish.
Yet, some people argue he is actually overrated.
Wheeler fleeced. Burnes overrated
— bryce (@bryceobrien20) November 19, 2021
Here are three reasons why he is not.
3. He Showed His 2020 Breakout Was No Fluke
In 2019, Burnes was already rising up the Brewers’ rotation plans, but ended up pitching mostly out of the bullpen because he couldn’t establish himself in the majors.
That year, he pitched 49 innings with an ugly 8.82 ERA.
However, he had the makings of a dominant pitcher: his 38.6 percent HR/FB (home runs per fly ball) was unsustainably high, and he struck out 12.86 hitters per nine innings.
He improved his command in 2020 and changed his pitch mix, ditching a hittable four-seam fastball and replacing it with a cutter-sinker mix.
As a result, he broke out with a 2.11 ERA and a mind-blowing 13.27 strikeouts per nine innings.
This year, he confirmed and validated that his 2020 breakout was no fluke, mainly by heavily featuring the cutter.
Corbin Burnes struck out 117 batters with his cutter in the 2021 regular season, so here are all 117 of his cutter strikeouts, as a treat. pic.twitter.com/VZRqSbrQzO
— Cut4 (@Cut4) November 18, 2021
Over a larger sample size, he had a 2.43 ERA in 167 frames, with 12.61 punchouts per nine innings.
His FIP was marvelous, at 1.63: FIP means Fielding Independent Pitching and takes defense and other factors the pitcher can’t control out of the equation.
With more than 200 innings of sample to evaluate him in the last two seasons, we can conclude that Burnes is legit and is far from overrated.
2. He Is The Most Dominant Starter In MLB
One of the stats that usually tells us which are the most dominant pitchers in MLB is K-BB%.
It’s obtained by taking the pitcher’s strikeout percentage and subtracting his walk percentage.
Strikeouts are the most successful outcome for a pitcher, because an out has been made without putting the ball in play and risking a hit, walk, double, or home run.
And walks are definitely detrimental to hurlers.
Pitchers with a high number of punchouts and a low number of walks are often the best and most consistent in the league.
Burnes led the league in K-BB%, with 30.4 percent.
For every walk he conceded, he struck out 6.88 batters, a number that also (comfortably) led the league.
He was the most dominant starter in Major League Baseball in 2021.
1. Per-Inning Excellence
If anything, Burnes may be underrated.
A lot of people are saying that Zack Wheeler should have won the NL Cy Young award because he pitched many more innings than Burnes.
In fact, Wheeler contributed 213.1 innings to the Philadelphia Phillies, with a solid 2.73 ERA.
However, Burnes was considerably better by ERA, FIP (Wheeler finished at 2.59, to Burnes’ 1.63) and strikeout rate, among other stats.
His per-inning production prevailed over Wheeler’s durability in the eyes of voters.
Burnes is far from overrated because he gives the Brewers a better chance to win than virtually every other starter in baseball other than a healthy Jacob deGrom.
If anything, that’s an underrated pitcher.