It’s no secret that the post-Stanton/Yelich/Ozuna Marlins have been among the laughing stocks of Major League Baseball. Since the start of 2018, Miami’s 218 wins rank 27th of the 30 teams. Outside of the COVID-shortened season, the Fish haven’t spent a day above the .500 mark.
Third baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson, one of the last remaining links to the previous ownership group, has been a bright spot.
When healthy, Anderson’s combination of above-average offense and strong defense have made him a key cog for the Marlins. Since his first full major league season (2018), his 110 OPS+ ranks 15th among qualified 3rd basemen. He leads all Miami position players in Wins Above Replacement during that span. Not a superstar by any means, but more-than-serviceable with hopes of there being more untapped potential.
But Anderson has become all-too-familiar with the injured list, suffering a season-ending wrist fracture in 2019, followed by a recurring shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery in 2021. Anderson’s .715 OPS and .129 ISO (Isolated Power) in 2021 were his lowest such marks as an everyday player. He was not hitting the ball with as much authority as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.
Even in what could best be summed up as an off year, Anderson still generated 1.3 rWAR in his 67 games played. That is a 3.1 WAR/162-pace in keeping with his 3.4 career mark.
Hope still lies within the organization that a full season of Anderson will re-cement his place among the franchise’s building blocks. By trading for utility-man Joey Wendle, the Marlins acquired a high-quality insurance policy should BA experience any setbacks in his recovery from surgery. So far, all indications are that the Oklahoma native will be available for Opening Day with no restrictions.
Don Mattingly said that Anderson is taking spring training reps in left field in addition to the hot corner, explaining how his extraordinary athleticism unlocks this kind of versatility. There is no record of him playing LF at any level since the 2013 collegiate summer league, but if BA’s right field performance is any indication, he’ll be effective.
Turning 29 on May 15, this is shaping up to be a make-or-break year for Anderson, at least as a bonafide starter. One particular split worth monitoring: his production against left-handed pitching. He was unable to capitalize on the platoon advantage last summer, slashing .158/.200/.228 with a 43.3% strikeout rate.
Anderson is currently in his second year of arbitration and due a modest raise from 2021’s salary of $3.8 million. He would hit free agency following the 2023 season if the Marlins don’t work out a contract extension with him beforehand.
Over/Under 110.5 games for Brian Anderson in 2022?
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