Anderson Takes Skills to Atlanta
On the back end of a distinguished career, left fielder Garret Anderson was deemed expendable by the Angels, who have more capable outfielders than any team in baseball.
Not one to speak out against the front office, Anderson has landed with the Atlanta Braves, where he recently signed a one-year, free-agent deal.
Anderson had been a fixture with the Angels since 1995, his first full season with the team when he played in 106 games and smacked 16 home runs with 69 runs batted in.
With the exception of 2007 and 2004, when Anderson was limited to 108 and 112 games due to various injuries, he has played in no fewer than 141 games every season.
Some have said that Anderson is too nonchalant, doesn’t show enough emotion, and won’t take risks like diving for balls.
It’s fine to give maximum effort, and laying out for balls is one indication, but Anderson has been durable and steady at the plate and in the field.
Anderson turns 37 years old in June, and is coming off another productive season. Last year he batted .293 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs.
When Anderson was drafted in the fourth round in 1990 out of Kennedy High in the Valley, he’s been consistently solid, but not a strict long-ball threat.
Only once, in 2000 has Anderson, a two-time Silver Slugger award winner, finished with more than 30 homers, when he laced 35 with 117 RBIs. Then again, that’s not his forte.
Anderson’s specialty is driving the ball into the gaps. Strong enough, this strategy has allowed him to have hit 272 homers with 1,272 RBIs. Not bad for a line-drive hitter.
Ten times Anderson ripped 30 or more doubles, and on four occasions has surpassed 40, with a high of 56 in 2002.
That same season, Anderson, who has a .469 slugging percentage and a .327 on-base percentage, drove in 123 runs, duplicating the total from the previous campaign.
For long-suffering Angels fans, and after so many heart-breaking losses in the playoffs, everything came together.
That one magical year erased the horrors of 1979, 1982, and 1986, as the Angels came from behind in Game 6 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants and won, and then clinched Game 7 on Anderson’s key double.
Anderson has led the American League in doubles twice, and had nine hits, with six RBIs and a .281 batting average against the Giants.
Anderson has made three All-Star teams, and was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player in 2003.
These accomplishments are nice, but Anderson, who owns a .296 lifetime batting average, and was raised by his teenage mother, is more concerned with family than numbers.
Getting the 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pounder to talk about himself is more difficult than buzzing a fastball past him.
The Angels have more than enough outfielders after signing free agent Bobby Abreu to play left field, along with Torii Hunter in center field, and Vladimir Guerrero in right field. They also have reserves Gary Matthews Jr., Juan Rivera and Reggie Willits.
To be sure, Anderson’s presence in the clubhouse and his wide and infectious smile will be missed. So will his trusty bat and winning ways. The Angels’ loss is the Braves’ gain.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a contributor to trufanboxing.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.