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Jeromy Burnitz

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Jeromy Neal Burnitz

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[edit] Biographical Information

Jeromy Burnitz hit 315 homers in his major league career.

Burnitz played for Team USA when they were just 1-5 in the 1989 Intercontinental Cup. Even though he had not even been an All-Conference pick his last year in college at Oklahoma State University, the New York Mets took him with the 17th pick of the 1990 amateur draft. He began his career with the Pittsfield Mets, hitting .301/.444/.497 with 45 walks in 51 games. He led the New York-Penn League in OBP and Baseball America named him the #10 prospect in the league. He got a brief and un-notable appearance with the St. Lucie Mets as well that year.

In 1991, Jeromy hit .225/~.369/.508 with the Williamsport Bills, drew 104 walks, cracked 31 homers, stole 31 bases, legged out 10 triples, whiffed 127 times, scored 80 and drove in 85. He became the first 30-30 player in the history of the Eastern League, led the league in homers, made the All-Star team in the outfield, was rated the #3 prospect in the EL and #2 in the Mets chain (behind Todd Hundley) by Baseball America.

In 1992, Burnitz only hit .243/~.295/.357 for the Tidewater Tides. His walk rate collapsed as he only coaxed 33 and he only homered 8 times. He stole 30 in 37 bases to lead the team in that department but it was a disappointing campaign for the 23-year-old. He was still ranked as the club's #2 prospect, now behind Bobby Jones. In 1993, the right fielder only hit .227/~.296/.404 with the Norfolk Tides and had a good MLB debut at .243/.339/.476 with a homer every 20 at-bats. His speed was fading - only 13 SB in 26 tries - but he had shown he had the power to play in the majors.

Jeromy started on the roster of the 1994 Mets but struggled (.238/.347/.329) and spent most of the year in Norfolk, where he had a .239/.340/.452 line. On November 18th, he was traded with Joe Roa to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later, Paul Byrd, Jerry Dipoto and Dave Mlicki.

Burnitz spent 1995 with the Buffalo Bisons, producing at a .284/~.356/.503 clip. He led the American Association in RBI (85), slugging and intentional walks (8) and his 19 homers tied for second-best, four behind leader Brooks Kieschnick. At age 26, he would have to succeed in his next big-league opportunity to avoid the "AAAA" player label. He got a September call-up and went 4 for 7 for Cleveland.

In 1996, Jeromy had a fine .281/.406/.523 line for the Indians but they had Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez as their corner outfielders so they dealt him at the trading deadline to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for Kevin Seitzer. He hit just .236/.321/.375 for the 1996 Brewers but had a regular role in the majors which he would not relinquish for years.

Burnitz batted .281/.382/.553 for the 1997 Brewers; he was third in the 1997 AL in triples (8), 6th in extra-base hits (72), 9th in slugging and 10th in OPS+ (140). It was also his only 20-20 season in the majors. Milwaukee moved to the National League in 1998 and Burnitz kept on hitting - .263/.339/.499 with career highs in homers (38), RBI (125) and strikeouts (158). He was fifth in the NL in RBI and tied two players for sixth in circuit clouts.

Jeromy made his only All-Star team in 1999, when he produced at a .270/.402/.561 rate, setting career bests in OBP, slugging and walks (91). He was 9th in the 1999 NL in OPS+, the highest he ever finished in that area.

In 2000, he became the second Brewer in team history to hit at least 30 home runs in three straight seasons. The other Brewer to do that had been Gorman Thomas. He homered in four straight games from May 7th to May 10th and on June 24th, he hit the longest home run in Turner Field history with a 454-foot blast. Overall, his line that year was .232/.356/.456 and he set a career high with 99 walks, 8th-best in the 2000 NL. In 2001, Burnitz hit .251/.347/.504 and scored a career-best 104 runs.

Milwaukee unloaded the fading slugger as part of a 10-player, three-team deal in the off-season. Back in New York in 2002, he sputtered to a .215/.311/.365 campaign with 19 homers and only 100 runs produced. Jeromy started strong for the 2003 Mets (.274/.344/.581) and they sold high in shipping him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Victor Diaz, Jose Diaz and Kole Strayhorn. Jeromy returned to baseline the rest of the year with a .204/.252/.391 close.

In 2004, Burnitz got a boost from Coors Field after signing with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent and hit .283/.356/.599 with 37 homers, 8th in the 2004 NL. The Rockies' signing had been widely criticized and Jeromy had been a pleasant surprise. Few teams wanted to shell out money for an aging player with several recent bad years, but the 2005 Cubs did so and he hit .258/.322/.435 for a 96 OPS+, very poor for a corner outfielder. Still, one general manager insisted on throwing money in his direction. Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates had a better right fielder in Craig Wilson, Dave Littlefield shelled out $6 million for Burnitz. He continued to decline in 2006, hitting only .230/.289/.412 for a 80 OPS+. Eventually, even Jim Tracy realized he was spent and stopped hitting him in the heart of the order, then began using prospects like Jose Bautista in his place. As he sat on the bench, Jeromy discussed retirement with reporters, something which became effective after the season.

Burnitz was on the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot but failed to receive a single vote.

Sources include 1991-1996 Baseball Almanacs

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • NL All-Star (1999)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 8 (1997-2001 & 2003-2005)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 6 (1998-2001, 2003 & 2004)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (1998, 1999, 2001 & 2004)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2001)

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