The 27 year-old Brian Anderson is coming off his best Major League season to date. He was hit with the injury bug, but that didn’t stop him from putting up a career-high 20 home runs. He did so in just 126 games. Unfortunately, his counting stats were lackluster to say the least. Anderson was only able to post 57 runs and 66 RBI. This isn’t too surprising considering the roster the Miami Marlins trotted out there last year. However, he sneakily sprinkled in 5 steals. This cannot be ignored in a day-and-age where speed is at a premium.
Lastly, Anderson put up a triple-slash of .261/.343/.468. Nothing overly flashy but this is likely the floor and it’s a solid floor at that. Although the stats don’t jump off the page, there were a bit of changes in his profile that suggest he made some changes that could lead to a jump in production.
This is where we get to dive in and take a look!
There’s a lot of interesting things going on here. The most notable is the O-Swing% is a career-high 34.8%. That’s not what you want to see by any means but it likely is due to the added aggression at the plate. Unfortunately, he swung more at pitches outside the zone while taking a step back on making contact outside the zone with an O-Contact rate of 58.7%. That would definitely explain the increase of 1.9% in the swinging strike rate (or SwStr%) from 2018 to 2019.
He posted another career-high mark but this time it’s at swing rate, which is at 47.5%. There’s the added aggression I was talking about. Where things start getting encouraging is the zone contact rate. With a Z-Contact% of 87.1%, not only is it a career-high mark, but it’s also the third straight season he’s improved hitting pitches in the zone.
If I had to guess, he added the aggression to attack more pitches as a whole which allowed him to make contact with more pitches in the zone. So although it added some swing-and-miss to his game, Anderson improved the overall production as well. A little give-and-take going on here.
The swing-and-miss he showed was noticed in the strikeout rate. It increased by 2.6% from 2018 to 2019 and it was at 21.9%. However, that is still better than the league average and not a huge jump all things considered.
You can also see he was more aggressive with the fact that the walk rate decreased to 8.5% in 2019. That was a drop off of 0.8%. Again, not a huge change but still something you expect to see given the changes in his profile. Anderson also saw a drop in his BABIP. He posted a BABIP of just .305 and not only is that below league average, but that is 28 points lower than any previous BABIP he has posted.
On a more positive note, Brian Anderson posted a career-best .207 ISO. This was 80 points higher than any of his previous three Major League stints. This further supports the power breakout.
Anderson also managed career-best marks in:
- wRC+ of 114
- wOBA of .342
- OPS of .811
Everything we’re seeing is aiming in the right direction. But wait, there’s more! There were other areas where Anderson posted career-best marks as well.
#Marlins Brain Anderson is underrated.
In 2019, he posted career-best marks in:
-HRs: 20 (Just 126 games)
-HH%: 45.7% (86th Percentile)
-Max Exit Velo: 114.4 (34th in MLB)
-GB% & FB%
-More aggressive but posted career-best 83.7% Z-Contact% #JuntosMiami pic.twitter.com/zsI7jKj3gR
— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) April 8, 2020
Yes, the name is misspelled in the tweet, but the point remains the same. Also, we will be discussing some of these numbers more in depth as we move along the breakdown.
Like the previous tweet mentioned, the ground ball rates and fly ball rates were by far the best of his career so far. This is what you hope to see in a player’s profile when you see an increase in home runs as we did. This helps back the increased home run output in 2019.
Not only did we see an improvement in fly balls, but the HR/FB rate also increased and almost doubled from 2018 to 2019. At 16.3%, that was good enough to be the 73rd best among qualified hitters and a better rate than Anthony Rendon, Eddie Rosario and Paul Dejong to name a few. The infield fly balls (or IFFB%) did increase but that should be expected with any attempt to increase the fly balls.
The interesting part is the increase in home runs but he actually pulled the ball just about the same the last two seasons. Anderson actually had a more all-fields approach as well last season. With the Oppo% increasing 3% to 29.0%, this makes it three straight seasons of this increasing. If he were to increase the pull rate, we could see even more power production. To see the power play the way it did with this approach, however, is encouraging to the legitimacy of said power.
Brian Anderson is average or above average in almost every Statcast metric. The batting average, slugging percentage, and wOBA are all in line with the expected stat counterparts. However, there were stats that that did stand out. Those stats include hard-hit rate, barrel rate, sprint speed, and launch angle.
The hard-hit rate of 45.7% is in the 86th percentile, with a barrel rate of 8.9% coming in at the 61st percentile. The common change in the profile that could explain both of these rates is the launch angle. Brian Anderson increased his launch angle to 11.1 degrees. This is a small change fro the previous launch angles of 8.7 and 8.4 degrees.
The change in launch angle could be the catalyst in a lot of these changes. It can affect everything from barrels and hard-hit rate to the ground ball and fly ball rates.
Something that doesn’t add up is the slight dip in average exit velocity from 2018 to 2019. Anderson’s average exit velocity was 89.9 MPH in 2019. This was still good enough to be in the 67th percentile. This shows the flaws in average exit velocity.
Factors that way into the average exit velocity are softly hit pop-ups among other softer contact. So although the launch angle did improve certain aspects of his profile, it could have also caused the softer contact to be even softer. The weak% was up to 2.9% and may be partly attributed to the amount of pop-ups he hit.
If you recall, his IFFB% was elevated and that would be due to Anderson’s under% increasing. It was a career-worst 22.4%. So although, he is hitting the ball harder and barreling the ball up better as a whole, his softer contact has increased thus effecting the overall average exit velocity. This leads us to look into exit velocity on fly balls and line drives only.
Brian Anderson posted an average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives of 94.5 MPH. This was a career-best mark and 2019 makes the third straight season it has improved. To put this into some context, this was a better rate than Manny Machado, Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Goldschmidt and Max Muncy to name a few. Hitting fly balls and line drives harder leads to more home runs.
Lastly, we will briefly discuss the speed. It is nothing spectacular but he does have speed in the 53rd percentile. This is basically league average and he sprinkled in five steals in an injury-shortened 2019. I would not count on much more but the potential for five to seven steals is always a bonus in today’s fantasy baseball climate.
Brian Anderson enters 2019 in the best lineup he has been a part of so far in his career. This should lend itself to improved lineup protection which will allow for better pitches to hit. At least in theory that is. It also does not hurt that Marlins park moved in some of their fences. Last season, straightaway center field was 407 feet from home plate. Entering 2020, it will be only 400 feet. The right-center field distance is being reduced from 392 to 387 feet as well. These changes are minor but that can be the difference in a double or fly out, and a home run.
At the end of the day, Brian Anderson is what I call a roster stabilizer. He is someone you can draft and just set him and forget him. He will bring a high floor but there is a ceiling we have yet to see. Anderson is currently just outside the top 200 in ADP over the last 30 days and I believe he can finish as a top 150 player. Throw in the fact that Anderson is multi-position eligible and you have yourself a solid asset with a chance for a return on investment.