MILWAUKEE (WISCONSIN) - September 19: Corbin Burnes #39 from the Milwaukee Brewers throws against the New York Mets at American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 19, 2022. MLB Network's annual "Top 10 Players Right Now" survey has concluded. Spring training is on the horizon. This popular offseason program analyzes every position using advanced and traditional statistics, as well as research and commentary by a panel made up of experts. Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers' starting pitcher, was awarded the Top 10 spot in a distinguished group of contemporaries. As he and the Brewers couldn't agree on a 2023 contract, Burnes, a right-handed pitcher aged 28, is currently preparing for an arbitrator hearing. Burnes, 2021 National League Cy Young Award Winner, asked for $10.75 million, while the Brewers responded with $10.01million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Although the $740,000 difference may seem insignificant to most fans, it is crucial when it comes down to establishing fair market values and reasonable expectations for starting pitchers at specific stages of arbitration eligibility. The ball clubs are always cautious about setting bad precedents that could cause negative ripples in the league. Burnes is currently the only arbitration-eligible starting pitcher looking for a one-year contract with an eight-figure salary. Max Fried, the left-handed starting pitcher of the Atlanta Braves lost his arbitration hearing. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Max Fried will now earn $13.5 million, instead of $15 millions in his third year.
In arbitration hearings, common techniques include comparing ball players who have similar stats, achievements and service times. Shane Bieber, of the Cleveland Guardians, is a great example. Bieber, 2020 American League Cy Young Award Winner, has just avoided arbitration with Guardians in his second-year of eligibility and signed a one year contract worth $10.01million according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Bieber ($6m) was ahead of Burnes ($6.5m) in terms of 2022 salary. Both had won the 2021 National League Cy Young Award. According to Baseball-Reference, Burnes and Bieber both completed their age 27 season in 2022. The key argument in any arbitration hearing between Burnes, the Brewers, and Bieber will be his entitlement to more than the $10.01million being offered. This is also the value of Bieber’s one-year contract. Burnes will be honored by the MLB Network. He also posted career highs in wins (12), games played (33), innings pitched (202.0) and strikeouts (234). In 2022, there were only two pitchers who exceeded 240 strikeouts or 200 innings pitched. They were Gerrit Cole from the New York Yankees. According to data from Baseball-Reference's Stathead, Cole struck out 257 batters in 200.2 innings. According to data from Baseball-Reference's Stathead, Burnes was second in Major League Baseball for strikeouts to Cole. He also happened to be one of four pitchers who started 33 games last season. Burnes's excellence is evident in the swinging strike rate percentage (SwStr%) statistic. FanGraphs says that Burnes' 15.8 percent is the highest among qualified starting pitchers in the past two seasons. Burnes' 2022 ERA of 15.1 percent was the third-best in Major League Baseball. Of his 243 strikeouts, 195 consisted of foul tips (14), swinging hits (138), and swinging strikes that were stopped by the catcher (43). Baseball Savant reports that Burnes had a six-pitch repertoire. He threw 3,274 pitches last year, with 1,815 of those being cutters (55.4%). At an average speed of 95 miles per hour, the cutters resulted in 114 strikeouts and 2,626 revolutions per minutes. There were two other Major League Baseball pitchers who could throw at least 1,000 cutters alongside Burnes in 2022: Cal Quantrill (1.052) of Cleveland Guardians and Yu Darvish (1.0466) of San Diego Padres. The Brewers will likely criticize the substantial increase in home runs allowed, from seven in 2021 (28 starts) to 23 in 202 innings (333 starts) last year, regardless of the additional 35 innings (5 starts). According to Baseball-Reference, Bieber allowed 18 home runs in 200 innings last season. The Brewers will be focusing on an adjusted earned-run average (ERA+), which would go from a major league leader 170 ERA+ in 2021, to a 134 ERA+ by the end of the 2022 season. Corbin Burnes, a Major League Baseball starting pitcher, is one of the most outstanding. He is an arbitration-eligible player for a small-market franchise, which is trying to maximize every dollar and adheres to the principles fair market value. There is still the possibility of a hearing. It makes sense for Burnes, the Brewers, and Burnes to settle on a $10.38million contract that splits the $740,000 difference. This approach was used by the New York Yankees' second baseman Gleyber Turres to avoid an arbitration hearing. Burnes still has arbitration eligibility for one year, so collaboration is crucial. He will be a highly-coveted free agent at the end of 2024 season.