Top 10 Pittsburgh Pirates of the first half

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Jul 6, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) reacts in the dugout after being removed from the game against the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

#3 – A.J. Burnett

If anyone were to rival the biggest surprise award that Cervelli could take home this season, it would have to be A.J. Burnett. The 38-year-old veteran has been arguably the best pitcher for the Pirates this season, at least in terms of ERA (2.11), and is having a final season for the ages with a team he loves to pitch for. He made his first All-Star team this season, and is on pace to have the best season of his career in terms of ERA and WAR (he’s at a 3.5 WAR now and his career-high mark is 4.2). He doesn’t have as many strikeouts as Liriano or Cole, nor does he have the lowest WHIP on the staff, but the results speak for themselves. and his consistency has been key to his success this year.

Burnett didn’t allow more than two runs in a start until May 28th, and had an ERA under 2.00 until his most recent start. He’s probably due for some regression, but he could still have the best season of his career in his final year. It was tough to rank Burnett as the second-best starting pticher to date, but he’s had a few rough outings and has allowed more outs on groundouts than on strikeouts. However, this is not to take away from Burnett’s brilliance in 2015, and here’s hoping he continues to thrive in his final year in the bigs.

Next: The Flamethrower