Up until the 2020 season, Brian Anderson was a steady fantasy asset that gave you a bit across the board, but didn’t necessarily dominate any category in particular. He posted adequate walk and strikeout rates, but the talent of the Miami lineup around him didn’t lend itself to statistically significant seasons. However, when the world flipped upside down in 2020 due to COVID-19, Anderson’s profile did, too. The Miami offense put some things together, Anderson displayed some impressive power numbers and unfortunately, his strikeout rate went through the roof. In 2021, Anderson is an intriguing fantasy asset. He doesn’t turn 28 until May, arguably coming off his best season, and the Miami lineup has some juice to it.
Let’s start with the strikeouts, since it’s always good to get the bad news out of the way. That way, we can get onto a high note and I can start hyping him up!
As you can see, Anderson’s profile sort of just flipped upside down. His contact in the zone plummeted, and as expected, the swinging strike rate took a jump. For the record, it is the second straight season that mark has jumped.
What is interesting here is that his O-Swing rate did not jump. Typically, with an increased strikeout rate you see a jump in swings, and whiffs, outside of the zone. However, with Anderson, it was pitches in the zone that led to the increased whiffs and strikeouts!
In the above graphic, he didn’t whiff any more than normal out of the zone on non-fastballs, but he is prone to whiffing on fastballs out of the zone. As you can see, that red line is trending up and to the right, and has increased each of the past three seasons. On the other hand, everything in the zone led to more swings and misses. Pitchers are pitching him out of the zone more than before, but if the whiffs continue, don’t be surprised if the opposition really challenges him. Now, he was the cleanup hitter for the Marlins last year, so perhaps the stigma of being the four-hitter led to more pitches out of the zone.
One last negative thing, and then its full blown Anderson hype! His hard hit rate and average exit velocity tumbled a bit. In 2020, his exit velocity and hard hit rate placed in the 26th and 48th percentile respectively. For his exit velocity, he sat in the 75th and 64th percentile in 2018 and 2019, and his hard hit rate sat at the 76th percentile and 86th percentile in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
ALRIGHT HERE WE GO! Time to hype up Anderson!
I love Anderson in 2021. In years past, he’s been the not-flashy, slow and steady producer that is a boring pick on draft day, and at the end of the season, you look at his numbers, and you go “it is what it is.” I don’t believe that will be the case in 2021. His barrel rate was up to 9.6 percent last year, and it marked the third straight year that he increased his mark.
His exit velocity on fly balls and line drives was only down about one mile per hour compared to 2019, but he enjoyed a nice bump in his HR/FB ratio. In 2019, he homered once every 22.95 at-bats, but that mark sat at 18.18 in 2020. Over the course of 600 at-bats, that equates to 33 home runs! Is Anderson hitting 33 home runs this season? No, but there’s reason to believe he gets to the mid-20s this season, at least.
Over his last 628 plate appearances, he’s hit 29 home runs with 98 RBI and a .263 batting average. Hey, that’s not too shabby, especially when you consider that he’s going outside the top 20 third baseman! Theoretically, he’s in the prime of his career, and 2021 is going to be his breakout year. The 2020 version of Anderson was a lot of the same, with a little more power and strikeouts, and less hard contact.
The 2021 version of Anderson won’t be the boring fantasy asset he has been in recent years. He’s going to provide adequate power, and with arguably his best supporting cast in years, he could post 80+ runs and runs driven in.
You probably don’t want to wait to make him your primary third baseman, but he’s an excellent corner infielder or utility guy that should give you a reasonable batting average, 20-25 home runs with the potential for 170+ runs scored plus RBI.
TLDR: Draft Anderson like I will be doing.