Brian Anderson, the Miami Marlins third baseman, has a chance to become the face and leader of this franchise for the 2020 season and beyond.
He was tall and thin and looking like he had just come out of college with a doe-eyed look. But the talent was undeniable. He could swing a bat and hustle and was one of the few bright spots on a very weak farm system.
Flash-forward four seasons and it is Anderson who is upfront and in the middle of the Marlins youth movement, hopefully leading the way at the plate, defensively and in the clubhouse. At only 26-years-old, he is one of the senior members of this Major League team and with the change to the current roster comes responsibility.
Anderson is going to be asked, once the Miami Marlins and the other 29 MLB teams can take the field, to become the face of this franchise, to help make baseball a fixture in a city that has desperately sought a playoff team for almost 20 seasons. The talent on the field is there, but raw. The minor league system is bursting at the seams, or so it appears.
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And Anderson, a holdover from the former ownership group, can make an impact on Miami baseball in a way that Larry Walker did in Colorado. Yes, it’s a fair comparison. Anderson should be set at third base again this season as Jonathan Villar, one of the Miami Marlins’ prized off-season acquisitions, is playing in the outfield.
Manager Don Mattingly will count on Anderson in the No. 2 spot in the lineup to hit for power and get on base. Defensively, the former University of Arkansas star is becoming one of the better players in the Majors.
With the 2020 season on hold for the moment, we here at Marlin Maniac take a look at the Miami Marlins roster and offer our own bold predictions for the 2020 season. Here are a few for Brian Anderson.
30 Home Runs
The second half of the 2019 season was both good and bad for Anderson. He started to find his groove at the plate and was swinging for the fences with more fluidity. He reached 20 dingers for the season, which was a career-high. He also hit 66 RBI. As he got hotter at the plate, he became more of a threat offensively.
Anderson suffered a broken hand on Aug. 23 of last year. The injury did not require surgery, but it did end what was a solid season in South Florida. Had he been able to play the remaining month of the season, it’s conceivable he would have hit at least 25 homers or more.
A 30-home run season is not out of the question for Anderson if he can find his stroke early and continue to drive the ball to the outfield with consistency.
When and if the game is played, Anderson could be one of a handful of Miami Marlins representatives in the MLB All-Star game in Los Angeles this coming season.
The Miami Marlins don’t have identifiable players the baseball landscape follows unless they are veterans who have had productive careers. That’s why someone like Sandy Alcantara or Caleb Smith becomes a poster player for the organization with solid seasons on the mound.
Anderson plays the hot corner or could be moved to right field because of injuries or the Jonathan Villar experiment failing in centerfield. If he is going to be recognized as one of the best in the game, he needs to remain in one position. Third base is the most natural for him. Look for Mattingly to try to keep him in the infield this season.
This might be the biggest stretch for Anderson, but a batting title could be attainable for the 2020 season and beyond.
Splitting time between third base and in right field, he hit .267 for the season with a .368 slugging percentage. He needs to be patient at the plate to start the season. Making more contact is the best way for him to move toward becoming one of the better hitters in the game.
This is where the comparisons to Walker come in. The Hall of Famer fluctuated as a hitter the first few seasons in the Majors – albeit with a higher batting average – before he became a consistent player. Walker was also added by having better hitters around him.
If Anderson remains in the second spot in the batting order, he will need to first work on putting the ball in play and then worry whether he is launching balls out of Marlins Park this coming season. The coaching staff and his teammates need him to be a catalyst on the diamond.