Miami Marlins

Marlins’ Brian Anderson finding more ‘green grass’ as production continues to pick up

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter: We’re trying to build something that’s special

Miami Marlins Chief Executive Officer Derek Jeter talks to the media before start of the first full-squad spring training workout on Monday, February 18, 2019 in Jupiter, FL.
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Miami Marlins Chief Executive Officer Derek Jeter talks to the media before start of the first full-squad spring training workout on Monday, February 18, 2019 in Jupiter, FL.

It was around this time last year that Brian Anderson hit the wall. As his first full season in the Major Leagues with the Miami Marlins wound down, Anderson’s production at the plate took a hit as he dealt with the unexpected fatigue of playing every day for more than six months.

Anderson, who finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, dropped 12 pounds throughout the course of the 2018 season. Over a three-week stretch from late August through mid-September, that stretch where his season would normally had ended in the minor leagues, his batting average was below .200 after averaging close to .300 most of the season.

This year? Anderson is heating up as the Marlins get ready for the final five-plus weeks of the season.

With his three hits against the Atlanta Braves in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss, Anderson is hitting .343 over his last 26 games. He rides a five-game hitting streak into Wednesday’s 7:20 p.m. start against the Braves and has multiple hits in four of those five contests.

“He’s been better,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “There’s a lot of truth to dealing with the long season, especially as a young player.”

Mattingly has noticed Anderson tweak different parts of his pregame routine. Anderson, 26, will occasionally taking off batting practice or limiting how much he swings before a game.

“All those little factors are part of the experience of playing a full season and going through it,” Mattingly said.

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The adjustments are helping him stay consistent once the swings matter — and helping him turn into the player the Marlins can build around for the future.

Anderson is pacing the Marlins offensively in doubles (33), home runs (20), runs scored (55), RBI (65) and slugging (.475). He has almost doubled his home run total from his rookie year (11) and is one double and one RBI shy of matching his 2018 marks in those categories with 38 games left to play.

He is one of 16 players in MLB with at least 30 doubles and 20 home runs entering Wednesday’s slate of games.

Most of his power production has come in the latter half of the season.

Anderson has recorded 34 of his 54 extra-base hits — 15 doubles and nine home runs — in 36 games since the All-Star Break. His .593 slugging in that stretch ranks 23rd in MLB among players with at least 125 at-bats.

A closer look at the analytics provide a glimpse at Anderson’s offensive success.

His 46.1 percent hard-hit rate, defined by Statcast as a batted ball in play with an exit velocity of at least 95 mph, leads the team. His 89.8 mph average exit velocity overall ranks second on the team behind catcher Jorge Alfaro (90.7).

“I haven’t changed a whole lot,” Anderson said. “I feel like early on in the season I just had some tough luck. A couple of the balls I hit today weren’t even hit that well. They just happened to find holes. That’s just the way baseball goes. Sometimes you barrel balls right to guys and some days you see nothing but green grass out there. I’m just trying to stay consistent out there as I can.”

Anderson also continues to provide versatility on defense. The Marlins view Anderson as their third baseman of the future but have been playing him primarily in right field due to their roster being very infield heavy.

“He’s extremely talented,” Mattingly said. “I think he’s going to get bigger and stronger. His confidence continues to grow.”

Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.