The Miami Marlins and the rest of the major leagues have been on a very extended hiatus while the nation deals with the fallout from COVID-19.
When play finally starts, with the proposed 82-game season, which players will struggle — and who will excel? This layoff is unprecedented in that there isn’t an active labor dispute. The last stoppage in play in the four main North American sports leagues was for the 2012-13 National Hockey League season. It finally got underway on January 19, 2013.
The last time baseball had a stoppage lead to missed regular season games was during the infamous 1994-95 major league baseball strike, when the 1994 World Series was cancelled (much to the chagrin of fans of the Montreal Expos). The 232 days that baseball was “closed” was the longest of the eight documented work stoppages in MLB history. Now, all of the sports are “closed,” and we don’t really have a template for how things are going to shake out in the short run.
A quick start is more important than ever for the Miami Marlins in 2020, and Brian Anderson hasn’t traditionally shown an ability to get off to one. In his first full major league season, back in 2018, Anderson’s first 30 games would see him slash a .257/.362/.367 line. It was an average just 10 points lower than his eventual career totals, and a decent OBP, but his slugging percentage — which was helped by only six extra-base hits — was over 100 points off his future career totals.
Last year was much of the same, as Anderson, who turns 27-years-old today, slashed out. .246/.333/.333 line through his first month of play, again with only six extra base hits to his credit. It was in marked contrast to what he accomplished last year from game 83 onward, when he slashed .276/.351/.553 with 15 doubles and nine home runs in 44 games.
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The key to an Anderson revival in a remarkably condensed season lay in the possibility of his “unlocking” his second-half abilities much earlier. I’m sure that Anderson’s early season struggles are hardly unique in the annals of MLB, or in any of the other major sports, really.
Anderson is written in ink at third base, although he has shown a knack for right field as well. Safely ensconced at the hot corner, he’s one of the blessed few who are not really in competition for an “Opening Day” spot in the lineup. As far as the no-doubt players on opening day, unless I miss my guess, there’s Anderson, Jonathan Villar, Jorge Alfaro, Miguel Rojas, and Corey Dickerson. With the season as compressed as it’s bound to be, the Marlins can’t afford a slow start for any of them.
In the meantime, all we can do is wait and see. Thanks for reading.