2020 Breakout Candidate: Could The Marlins’ Brian Anderson Develop Into A .280/30 HR Threat…

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The Marlins’ Brian Anderson generally doesn’t get much attention. Granted playing in Miami doesn’t help, though the surface numbers won’t help his cause either. It’s not that they are bad, but they also don’t stand out:

459 At Bats
.261 Batting Average (120 Hits)
20 Home Runs
66 RBI
57 Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.342 On Base Percentage
.468 Slugging Percentage
.305 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Some of the counting stats are suppressed by a lackluster supporting cast, but how much attention will a .260/20 HR player get? With power exploding across the game in ’19, the answer is not much.

However, it’s when you start digging into the underlying metrics that your interest should be piqued. There were only 22 players with an Oppo% of 28.0% or better last season, and only 4 of them paired it with a Hard% north of 44%. The list is surprising including Miguel Cabrera, Freddie Freeman and Ryan McMahon, though Anderson’s inclusion may be the biggest shock:

  • Oppo% – 29.0%
  • Hard% – 44.3%

Despite those numbers, as well as an approach that wasn’t flyball-centric (35.3%) and the vast expanses of his home ballpark, Anderson managed just a .305 BABIP. Sure you could argue that he needs a slightly better approach (11.9% SwStr%, 34.8% O-Swing%), but he was better in ’18 (10.0%, 28.1%, respectively) and it’s not enough to justify the unimpressive BABIP.

Interestingly he was seeing more hard pitches than in ’18 (58.95% to 62.17%) and struggled against fourseam fastballs (.223 with 4 HR). Considering he hit .282 with 8 HR against them the year before, seeing a rebound should be expected.

Anderson did bounce back in the second half (.284), and even though it came in just 148 AB it’s much closer to the number we’d expect. Couple that with turning 27-years old in May, which could lead to a further spike in power (he posted a 16.3% HR/FB overall, but 19.1% in the second half), and there’s reason for significant optimism moving forward.

Throw in eligibility at both 3B and in the OF and there’s a lot to like. The cost should be minimal and the upside is high. Would it be surprising to see him develop into a .280-.290 hitter with 25-30 HR? For the back of your roster there’s an awful lot to like.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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