Granted, we’re only two seasons into the 2020s, waiting on the third season to get started. Still, it’s just a further indication of the dominance we’ve seen from Corbin Burnes over the past two years.
In terms of Fangraphs WAR, Brewers ace Corbin Burnes has been the best player in all of baseball over the last two seasons combined.
The stat we’re looking at here to call Burnes the best player in baseball is Fangraphs’ calculation of WAR.
Burnes just barely has the edge over Guardians infielder Jose Ramirez in fWAR over the last two seasons. Keep in mind, Burnes wasn’t even a regular in the starting rotation until midway through the 2020 season. He spent the first portion of that shortened season in the bullpen as a tandem starter.
Once he did establish himself in that rotation, Burnes has not looked back. He’s put the struggles of 2019 and the last decade in the past, and started the new decade off as strongly as possible. He built upon that success in the shortened 2020 season, one that he might’ve been a stronger contender for the Cy Young in had he gotten one more out and had enough innings to qualify as a starter.
Burnes ended up finishing 6th in the Cy Young balloting that year but jumped all the way into first place in 2021 with one of the most dominant pitching seasons we have seen since Pedro Martinez in 1999.
That dominance last season has vaulted Burnes to the top of the fWAR leaderboards. He put up 7.6 Wins Above Replacement in 2021, which was only behind Shohei Ohtani of the Angels, but Ohtani missed a lot of time in 2020 and did not perform that well in the shortened season, leaving Burnes as the top dog for the decade so far.
We still have eight more seasons to go to finish out this decade, and it obviously remains to be seen if Burnes can remain the best player for the decade over those seasons. But he’s young and in his prime, while seemingly only getting better. This will be Burnes’ decade to dominate in the big leagues.
Of all the players people would guess to be the league’s leader in WAR this decade, Burnes probably wouldn’t be one of the first names to come to mind. But yet, here he is, as the best player in baseball so far this decade.