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Where will Anderson play defense in 2019?

November 29, 2018

MIAMI -- How the Marlins address their offseason needs will determine whether Brian Anderson mostly plays third base or right field in 2019.A significant part of the franchise's core, Anderson is generally considered the long-term third-base option. But that could change, depending on the moves Miami makes during the Hot

MIAMI -- How the Marlins address their offseason needs will determine whether Brian Anderson mostly plays third base or right field in 2019.
A significant part of the franchise's core, Anderson is generally considered the long-term third-base option. But that could change, depending on the moves Miami makes during the Hot Stove season.
The Marlins are in the market for corner outfielders and a first baseman. If an established outfielder is brought in, Anderson likely will be at third base. If not, the 25-year-old may wind up in right field. He played both in his 2018 rookie season.

In late September, Marlins manager Don Mattingly stated that the organization is open to using Anderson at either position. That stance remains the same today.
"You don't know what's going to happen with your club and how you try to put it together next year or the year after," Mattingly said during the Marlins' final series at the Mets. "I think the one thing good is we've seen him able to do both."
Primarily a third baseman in the Minor Leagues, Anderson actually played more games in right field (91) than at third (71) in 2018. He logged 765 1/3 innings in the outfield compared to 592 2/3 innings at his more natural position.
"That's the main thing: Instead of seeing him get pigeonholed into one spot, we've seen both," Mattingly said. "So it depends on what you have coming or if there is a free agent you're trying to sign that makes your club better. He may fit you in either direction."

Versatility is vital in the National League. More and more clubs rely on roster flexibility, especially with pitchers hitting and double-switching. Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, for instance, appeared at first base, center field and right field in the postseason.
The fact Anderson can handle right field and third base increases the Marlins' options. For the club, the main thing is getting his bat in the lineup.
Anderson finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting, batting .273/.357/.400 with 11 home runs, 34 doubles and 65 RBIs. The former University of Arkansas standout paced all NL rookies in games (156) and hits (161), and he finished with a fWAR of 3.4 per FanGraphs.
Also factoring into the equation of where Anderson may play is veteran third baseman Martin Prado. The 35-year-old, who has dealt with injuries the past two seasons, is an option at third base or first base.
Anderson opened 2018 at third base, but he moved to right field when Prado (left hamstring) came off the disabled list. But Prado appeared in just 54 games this year, and 37 in '17, so his durability is questionable.

Statistically, Anderson actually performed better in right. According to FanGraphs, Anderson had four Defensive Runs Saved in right field, and minus-2 runs saved at third base.
In terms of arm strength, Anderson is well above average in the outfield. He showcased his arm gainst the Dodgers on May 16, making two laser-like throws. One was tracked by Statcast™ at 99.1 mph, and the other at 95.3 mph. Neither resulted in an out, but it sent a signal to the opposition to run with caution.
Because he throws so hard, Anderson has a tendency at third base to put a little extra zip on his tosses to first. It's something the organization has spoken to him about, asking him to ease up a bit.

"A couple of things we've talked to him about are, making sure his footwork is right, and he doesn't have to air it out," Mattingly said. "He can have a touch throw in there, where he doesn't have to, basically, throw it as hard as he can across the diamond. He's probably most comfortable doing that.
"But he's probably best served, in the long run, being able to do it a little easier and not having to throw it like that. His defense, for me, has been OK. There's always a few little things that you hope guys get better. It's just more reps."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.