Do you remember A.J. Burnett? I recently wrote a career retrospective on his more famous Miami Marlins (then Florida Marlins teammate). Burnett was once a highly touted prospect who was supposed to be an ace of the future. He was officially a part of the 2002 World Series winning team, though he didn’t actually pitch during the playoffs. Let’s take a look at his Miami Marlins career.
A.J. Burnett was drafted in the eighth round of the 1995 draft by the New York Mets. On February 6, 1998 he was traded to the Miami Marlins in the Al Leiter trade along with Minor League OF Rob Stratton and Minor League LHP Jesus Sanchez (yes he has the same name as our current CF). The Fish traded Leiter and Minor League 2B Ralph Milliard in the trade. If you’re interested to know who won that trade using Wins Above Replacement, the Miami Marlins ended up with 12.5 WAR and the New York Mets with 28.1 WAR, so the New York Mets won by 15.6 WAR.
A.J. Burnett rose up the prospect rankings and finally got the call in 1999. He started 7 games and pitched for 41.1 innings, delivering a 3.48 ERA/4.30 FIP. The following season he received 13 starts and delivered 82.2 innings of 4.79 ERA/4.68 FIP ball. In 2001 he started 27 games and delivered 173.1 innings of 4.05 ERA/4.63 FIP. At this point he appeared as perhaps best a mid-rotation arm , however he was going to improve.
In 2002, A.J. Burnett broke out with a 3.30 ERA/3.19 FIP in 31 games (29 starts) and 204.1 innings pitched. Unfortunately the newly crowned ace then got injured and only started in 4 games in 2003, with a 4.70 ERA/4.94 FIP. Coming off a World Championship the previous season, the Miami Marlins welcomed Burnett back in 2004 for 20 games (19 starts) and 120 innings of 3.68 ERA/3.19 FIP ball. Burnett was back as an ace, but needed to work his way back to a full workload.
2005 turned out to be the final season for A.J. Burnett in a Miami Marlins uniform, as he left after the season as a free agent. In that season, Burnett capped off his tenure with The Fish with a 3.44 ERA/3.11 FIP in 32 games and 209 innings pitched. It was a great platform season and led to him leaving for Toronto. A.J. Burnett had a couple very good seasons for The Fish, but he was never an integral part of a pennant or a World Series winning team and didn’t provide longevity, thus not having a memorable career in the end unfortunately.