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Brian Anderson is Awesome

The Marlins rookie is an underrated fantasy baseball player.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Colorado Rockies Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Anderson was a low-key addition to my Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational squad on March 25th of this year. I cut Victor Robles to acquire his services. He was my first priority during that particular waiver run, and I spent a whopping $0.00 to nab him. In short, no one was interested in Anderson at that time. Heck, I was barely interested. All I knew is that he was logging consistent playing time, and in a deep league that was enough to make the speculative add.

All he’s done this season is manage a .297/.374/.416 slash line with four home runs and two swipes...and a 121 wRC+. He is currently the No. 15 third baseman in the fantasy game, and he’s not getting enough love. This morning I chose to see how he stacks up against his competition, and here is what I found:

No. 9 in hard contact, at 40.8%

Matt Carpenter, Eugenio Suarez, Matt Chapman, Evan Longoria, Mike Moustakas, Nolan Arenado, Eduardo Escobar, and Alex Bregman...that’s the list of guys who are hitting the ball harder than Anderson. That’s right, he’s ahead of positional stalwarts Anthony Rendon, Kyle Seager, Jose Ramirez, Kris Bryant...and anyone else that plays third base that I didn’t mention!

No. 9 in soft contact, at only 15.9%

Naturally, some of the same guys are ranked ahead of him again, but that’s not the point of this post. Point is he’s still elite in this mark, ahead of guys like Jose Ramirez, Alex Bregman, and Kris Bryant (to name a few).

No. 14 in line drive rate, at 21.2%

He’s right behind Jose Ramirez (22.0%) and Alex Bregman (21.8%). Some really fine company he’s keeping, eh?

No. 12 in walk rate, at 9.4%

In fact, Anderson represents the last of the elites in this regard, as the No. 13 player (Zack Cozart) has a below average 7.5% walk rate.

No. 16 in strikeout rate, at 18.9%

“No. 16” may not sound elite, but Anderson again represents the beginning of the end, as the 17th-ranked player (Evan Longoria) has a much higher strikeout rate of 21.1%. That, and the average strikeout rate among all MLB hitters in 2018 is 22.4%. So, Anderson is walking more and striking out less than the average bear. The average slash line is .245/.317/.406, while we are on the topic. Anderson is above average everywhere, though barely so in SLG.

His plate discipline is solid:

Among qualified third baseman, Anderson ranks 16th in SwStr% at 9.5%. Only 15 guys swing and miss less. Again, “No 16” doesn’t sound great, but it’s well above the MLB average of 10.7%. Anderson is well above average in chase rate (O-Swing%) at 24.9%, as the MLB average is 30.4%. He is above average in Z-Contact% and Contact% as well, which may explain why pitchers don’t throw him a ton of first pitch strikes. Anderson sees a strike on the first pitch only 56.3% of the time (MLB average is 60.4%). Only seven third basemen sees strikes a lesser percentage of the time on the first pitch: Travis Shaw, Jeimer Candelario, Jose Ramirez, Alex Bregman, Matt Carpenter, Nolan Arenado, and Mike Moustakas are the names. Team context matters, sure—if I were staring down the Tigers lineup I’d much prefer pitching to the ghost of Victor Martinez than to Candelario, for instance. There are multiple factors at play, but I still thought his F-Strike% was noteworthy, especially when coupled with his (already) above average contact skills.

Overall he’s very good, except for one category...

Among third basemen, Brian Anderson ranks fifth in runs, 11th in RBIs, fourth in average, ninth in stolen bases, and sixth in OBP. So here’s the one indictment of him that I have so far ignored: he ranks 22nd in home runs, as he only has four of them so far in 2018.

Power Outage?

It’s crazy how much home runs can color our idea of a fantasy player. Anderson has been a fantastic overall asset in the fake game, but because he lacks the standard power associated with the hot corner he is going overlooked. He is owned in only 52% of Yahoo leagues, and I’m as guilty as the rest of you for not give him the respect that is due. I play in multiple leagues, but I only have Anderson in one—thankfully it’s the TGFBI that is littered with industry experts (and where I needed a boost in average!).

About the power I’ll say two things: the .131 ISO at home is better than his road .109 ISO. I’m not sure what we attribute that to, other than he’s still a rookie and may be learning how to travel? That, or some smallish sample size fun? His strikeout rate does spike on the road, for what it’s worth. Either way, I’d expect his road home run total to at least match his Marlins Park home run total by season’s end, and that’s encouraging to see (currently three homers at home and one on the road).

Secondly, if you take a look at Anderson’s minor league numbers you can see that his ISO fell nearly every time he was promoted to the next level...and then it rose again. From A to A+ he fell (.203 ISO to .105 ISO), and then from A+ to Double-A he fell (.137 ISO to .116 ISO). From Double-A Triple-A (.199 to .263 ISO) he actually rose, and was called up to the MLB as a result (2017).

At the MLB level his power took a hit again (.107 ISO). But so far in 2018 he is posting a slightly improved .119 ISO. And if minor league numbers are any indication, that’s the very low end of what we can expect from Anderson as a big league player. Who knows how long it will take to come into more power? Not me! But for now I’m happy using this four-category contributor in as many leagues as I can, and finding my power elsewhere.

What say you, gamer? Did you know Anderson was such a stud, with room for growth? Or are you still uninterested? Find me on Twitter @HeathCapps or via email at heathcapps19@gmail.com with any questions, comments, concerns, or respectable disagreements.