Billy Burns isn’t the most well known player in baseball. In 2015, he was. But now, no one remembers him. Except me.
I was 7 in the summer of 2015. I was just starting to love baseball, and I could tell you about every big player. I liked both the Cubs and Sox, but I was primarily a Sox fan. I don’t remember too much about that summer. But there was one thing I do remember. His name is Billy Burns.
I would read the Chicago Tribune Sports Section, and included was a one page baseball section. There was box scores, news, standings, pitching matchups, and league leaders. I loved the league leaders section, and I would always look if my favorite player, Adam Eaton, was in the AVG leaders. He never was. But one person was always there, except for the end of the season. It was surprise, surprise, Billy Burns.
Fast forward to the next year. It’s 2016. I still love baseball, and I look at the baseball section every day. But I never saw Billy Burns. I wasn’t a Cubs fan in 2016. I was a Sox fan. Still, I would never see Adam Eaton. That didn’t change.
Fast forward to present day. I just remembered Billy Burns, maybe 5 minutes ago. I searched him up on Baseball Reference, and sure enough, he was out of the MLB after 2017. So what happened? To know, we have to go back a while.
Billy Burns was born on August 30, 1989, and he went to high school at Walton HS. The only players of note are Blaine Boyer, and Billy Burns. After Burns graduated, he went to Mercer University. But before he attended, he was drafted in the 16th round by the Braves. He doesn’t sign.
Four years pass. He’s drafted again, but this time by the Nationals in the 32nd round. In 2011 Burns played for A-, and he hit .262 with 1 HR. He played 32 games. The next year, he went up to A Ball. He was outstanding, as he had a .322 AVG with a .432 OBP. The only problem was power hitting. He would have no home runs that year, solidifying him as a lead off hitter. In 2013, Burns played in A+ and AA, and combined he did quite well. He hit .315 with a .425 OBP, but still, no home runs.
On December 11, 2013, Billy Burns was traded to the A’s for Jerry Blevins. Blevins was 5-0 in 2013 with a 3.15 ERA with the A’s. So a trade like this meant that the A’s thought that Billy Burns could be something. But in the A’s minor leagues, he struggled. He played in 119 games, and he only hit .237 with a .315 OBP. And also he finally got his first home run since 2011. He also took a stint with the A’s, although it was only 6 AB. He got 1 big league hit.
In 2015, Burns started out in the minors. He played 22 games, and BOOM! He was in the MLB full-time. He played really well. He played in 125 games, he hit .294, and he had 5 home runs.
But on July 30, 2016, Burns was traded to the Royals for Brett Eibner. Eibner had played in only 26 games with the Royals, where he hit .231 with 3 home runs. 2016 was Eibner’s first year in the MLB. But if I told you Burns’s 2016 stats, this would make a little more sense.
In 2016 with the A’s he started with big expectations. In 2016, he played in 73 games with the A’s, and he hit .234 with 0 home runs. He was struggling badly, and the Royals were a change of scenery that could’ve worked out. It didn’t. He played in 24 games for the Royals, and he hit .243 with, again, no home runs.
It’s now 2017, and Billy Burns started the year in the minors. He would play 95 games there, and only 7 in the MLB. In the minors he hit .285 with no home runs. In 2018, all hope was pretty much lost for Burns, and he didn’t rebound in 2018. Instead, he hit .255 with a .314 OBP. On November 2, 2018, Billy Burns was granted free agency. On January 3, 2019, he signed with the Yankees, who were ready to take a chance on him, one that would not work out. In 2019 AAA, Billy Burns hit .258 with a .330 OBP. But the worst news was yet to come. On November 4, 2019, Billy Burns was granted free agency, and now he is out of baseball.
How did this happen? How did a once .294 AVG in 2015 guy, suddenly drop so far? Something must have changed in the 2015-16 offseason. He went from a lead off hitter, to a ninth hitter. I think I have a theory on why this happened.
I believe that Billy Burns was figured out. Give a team an offseason, and they’ll figure out your weakness. I think that his weaknesses were exposed, and were just missed in 2015. There is no other way to explain a drop that significant.
This is why you should never trust a player right after their breakout season. Because you never know. And Billy Burns is a perfect example. You never know.