There would seem to be little intrigue at third base for the Miami Marlins in 2021, beyond wondering when Brian Anderson will get a long-term deal.
But he might be the only player on the team that won’t be competing with someone in camp for a starting spot in 2022.
Yes, third base is pretty open and shut in our third 2021 Miami Marlins position preview, as Anderson is Plan A, B, and C for the franchise at the hot corner. Whereas catcher showed a key player entering a prove it year, and middle infield can go in a variety of directions, all signs point to it being a surprise if Miami ends up with a Top 30 prospect that can handle third at the MLB level. Sure, much is being made of Miami’s all-veteran outfield this season, but it would be a surprise if JJ Bleday and Jesus Sanchez don’t take two of those jobs for themselves next spring. Bottom-line, Brian Anderson is the past, present, and future at third base for the Marlins organization.
Consequently, since there’s no mystery about who will start for the Miami Marlins at third base, the only question worth asking about the position would seem to be not if, but when the team will offer Anderson a sizable contract extension.
Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins Pos: 3B 2020 Stats: .258, 11 HRs, 38 RBI
Projected Starter: Yes Fantasy Value: CI In Deep Roto? Chance To Make Team: 100%
If you’re wondering why the Miami Marlins feel so strongly about a career .266 hitter, go find yourself some video of pitcher Braxton Garrett watching Brian Anderson play defense in Garrett’s MLB debut. The only footage that made the Sportscenter rounds more than Anderson’s web gem of a throw was the footage of Garrett’s face comprehending that somebody was able to make that play.
And okay, sure, that 162-game power pace Anderson has teased the past two seasons (25.7 in 2019, 30.2 in 2020) is pretty exciting stuff as well. Plus defense and power together though? That’s something every MLB team would love to build around.
However, there’s some cause to be even more optimistic. Anderson’s last month of the season, when the Miami Marlins were making their postseason push? Anderson batted .304 with 6 HRs and 18 RBI. True, three of those homers did come in the same game- first Marlin since Cody Ross in 2006 to pull off that feat. So while I’m not suggesting Anderson has 40 HR upside, I am suggesting that pairing the power and defense with even a .280 average would make him a Top 10 third baseman.
Anderson Best Case: .280, 25 HRs, 105 RBI in 150 plus games. Really, I think that last month was just a hot month, not a breakout. But the power potential is real, though I’m docking him 5 HRs in expectation of that deadened baseball and the still cavernous Marlins Park.
Anderson Worst Case: .260, 15 HRs , OBP stays below .350 in a full season. There’s a chance we’ve seen his best season as a complete hitter, in 2017, when he hit .273 with 11 HRs in 156 games. He has clearly started selling out for power since, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if the power does drop on account of that new (old?) baseball? Suddenly he’s less poor man’s Nolan Arenado, and just late stage Martin Prado.
Regardless of which outcome he’s closer to, he’s as good a bet as any Marlin to lead the team in games played by season’s end, and worthy of a new contract. So for the rest of this preview, let’s take a look at when that offer might get made, and what Miami’s backup plan would be if Anderson missed significant time.