Miami Marlins: Don’t forget about the defense of Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson may become one of the better hitters in the Majors this season for the Miami Marlins, but he is a solid defensive player as well.

Miami Marlins fans are going to hear plenty about Brian Anderson this season.

The third baseman/outfielder is one of the homegrown prospects the organization is banking on to take another step in his production for the team in 2020. His 2019 season was cut short with five weeks left due to a broken hand. Anderson, who was a third-round pick out of Arkansas in 2015, hit 20 home runs and had 66 RBI, both career highs.

This year should have been even better, but this Miami Marlins and MLB are still waiting to play games this season. If he is able to get off to a fast start and the team gives him support at the top of the order, Anderson should hit second or third in the lineup for manager Don Mattingly.

And that concludes the offensive discussion about Anderson, who I have said before could become another Larry Walker-type of a player in the Majors.

One of the things many of us who cover the Marlins on a daily basis do not discuss is Anderson’s defense, which is better than average. For someone who split time in right field and at third base, he has a plus arm, which was noted as part of a story on MLB.com by Christina De Nicola, who wrote about the players with the best-throwing arms in the National League East.

Anderson made the cut. And because there is a national awareness of his arms strength and growing defensive presence for the Marlins, it could mean he falls in line to win a Gold Glove this season.

De Nicola enlisted Marlins’ beat writer Joe Frisaro to help with the assessment of Anderson’s abilities.

“The Marlins claim they are keeping Anderson at his natural position, which is third base. He can certainly handle the hot corner, but right field is where he really showed off his arm strength,” Frisaro wrote. “From 2018-19, he split time between the two spots, and there is plenty of anecdotal and statistical evidence to back the claim that Anderson can throw with the best of them. According to Statcast, Anderson had throws from the outfield tracked at 99.1 mph and 95.3 mph against the Dodgers on May 16, 2018.

“Neither resulted in an out, but they served as a reminder of his arm. On Aug. 3, 2019, at Tampa Bay, Anderson nabbed Austin Meadows at the plate on a throw from right field tracked at 97.1 mph. The ball carried 227 feet.”

I’m sure there are other “wow” moments that weren’t captured on film or by MLB.com that show he can be just as effective in the infield. On a personal note, I watched Anderson day after day take grounders at third base when he was here in Jacksonville, where the Marlins Double-A affiliate the Jumbo Shrimp was home to the 27-year-old in 2016 and 2017.

Given a full season, Anderson could challenge 30 home runs and 90-100 RBI. He could also improve his batting average of .261 from last season. As he continues to develop, the Miami Marlins front office should continue to build around him, not only in the batting order but in the infield and outfield as well.

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