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Pitching Mechanics Analysis
AJ Burnett

Updated 12/10/2008

AJ Burnett's name has come up a number of times recently as a possible candidate for the Cardinals to try to sign in the off-season.

Let me explain why I think that would be a terrible idea.

AJ Burnett Inverted W

AJ Burnett's Inverted W

The problem is that, as you can see in the photo above and in Frame 81 of the clip below, AJ Burnett has a significant Inverted W in his arm action.

Video Clip of AJ Burnett

AJ Burnett

I will grant you that AJ Burnett's Inverted W doesn't seem to be as bad as Anthony Reyes' and his Inverted L isn't as bad as BJ Ryan's, but it certainly does seem to have a negative effect on his timing.
     Notice how AJ Burnett's Pitching Arm Side (PAS) forearm isn't even horizontal in Frame 85 when his Glove Side (GS) foot plants and his shoulders start to rotate. You can also see this in Frame 88. Notice how much his shoulders have rotated (notice how you can see his numbers) but his PAS forearm isn't yet vertical. Finally, notice how much AJ Burnett's shoulders have already rotated by the time, in Frame 90, that AJ Burnett's PAS forearm is finally vertical.
     The problem with AJ Burnett's timing problem (aka habitual rushing) is that it significantly increases the load on both his elbow and his shoulder. This in turn significantly increases the risk that he will have elbow and shoulder problems.

AJ Burnett

AJ Burnett

AJ Burnett

AJ Burnett

AJ Burnett

AJ Burnett

You can see the same arm action and timing problems in the photos above of AJ Burnett.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line on AJ Burnett is that he is perhaps the riskiest member of the current class of free agents. A team might be able to get value out of signing him to a 2 or 3 year deal, but there's not way you could convince me to give AJ Burnett a 4 or more year deal (which is what he seems to be asking for).

What's The Deal With The Blue Jays?

I have long suspected that some organizations are drafting and signing guys for their arm actions; that they are specifically looking for pitchers with the Inverted W or Inverted L because they (mistakenly) believe that these arm actions are critical to throwing both well and hard.. The Blue Jays are my leading candidate, because they seem to have a disproportionate number of pitchers with these problematic arm actions...

     - AJ Burnett
     - BJ Ryan
     - Shaun Marcum 

I also believe the Diamondbacks are trying to draft pitchers with the Inverted W or Inverted L (or they certainly aren't afraid of them).

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