A successful September call-up in 2017, along with a strong a 2018 spring training, made Brian Anderson the everyday third baseman for the rebuilding Miami Marlins. In order to accommodate Martín Prado in his return to the lineup later that season, Anderson was placed in right field for the first time in his professional career. Since then, he’s been amongst the Marlins’ best defenders at both positions along with being arguably the best hitter in the lineup.
This year, despite a slow start, Anderson has proved that his 2018 success was no fluke. In fact, he’s built upon that season on both sides of his game.
His defense has taken a huge step forward. In 2019, he’s tied with Evan Longoria for second in Fangraphs’ Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at 3B and tied for third at RF with Yasiel Puig and Josh Reddick. His 9 outfield assists this year ties him with Bryce Harper for second in MLB. All of that is made more impressive by the fact that Anderson is splitting time between RF and 3B.
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While it makes sense that the 26-year-old should be playing his best position at 3B, there is a clear advantage to his defensive flexibility. Moving between RF and 3B hasn’t proved harmful to Anderson’s abilities at either position. His top tier defense at both positions allows the team to compensate for its current weakness in the outfield. In the long run, he’ll likely be a third baseman since the Marlins have an abundance of young outfielders coming up the pipeline (as opposed to their shallow pool of minor league third basemen). The plus here is that Anderson is developing into a true multi-positional player, almost Ben Zobrist-esque, which can only help the Marlins as they turn towards competing for a playoff spot.
At the plate, Anderson has tapped into his raw power in 2019. While it’s just mid-August, he’s hit 20 HRs, topping his rookie season’s 11 home runs. Since May 17, he’s slashed .281/.357/.558 with 18 home runs and 28 doubles. He doesn’t give away at bats, using his perceptive vision at the plate to draw walks and extend counts. He averages 3.7 pitches per plate appearance.
#ProHogs | 15 for 15
— Ryan Folkes (@RyanFolkes) July 30, 2019
Overall, Anderson has been the Marlins’ most obvious member of their long-term core. In fact, he’s a great candidate for a contract extension this upcoming offseason, potentially saving the Marlins some money in arbitration along with locking him up for a few extra years.
Unfortunately, Brian Anderson’s season has likely come to an end after fracturing a finger last week. His goal now is to rally his teammates and make an impact from the dugout.
As this team comes together, his experience can help what will be a very young team get through grind of a Major League season as they vie for an October run in years to come.