Miami Marlins

The Marlins will need multiple players to step up to replace Brian Anderson’s production

Marlins’ Brian Anderson talks hand injury vs Philadelphia Phillies

The Miami Marlins' Brian Anderson talks about his hand injury suffered against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.
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The Miami Marlins' Brian Anderson talks about his hand injury suffered against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.

The Miami Marlins were dealt a serious blow in their 19-11 win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday when the club announced right fielder/third baseman Brian Anderson’s left fifth metacarpal was fractured on a hit-by-pitch.

The injury, which normally requires at least six weeks recovery, effectively ended their top player’s season with a little more than five weeks left to play.

“Obviously I know this will probably be it this season for me,” Anderson said. “Not the news you want to hear, but it’s baseball. Stuff like this happens.”

Anderson, 26, entered Saturday leading Marlins starters in RBI (66), home runs (20), doubles (33), runs scored (57), slugging (.468) and OPS (.811) in 126 games while also posting a .261 batting average.

Defensively, Fangraphs has him credited with a team-high 14 defensive runs saved — nine at third base and five in right field. His nine runs saved at third rank second among those who played at least 500 innings at the position. Anderson’s nine outfield assists are tied for sixth in MLB.

So how do the Marlins, a team that entering Saturday is a loss away from guaranteeing a 10th consecutive losing season, replace their most productive player for the final five weeks of a lost season?

It will take more than one person.

“Unfortunate with Andy,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said, “but like we talked about before, doors close and others open.”

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From the physical roster standpoint, the door opened for outfielder Austin Dean to take Anderson’s roster spot. Dean is starting in left field on Saturday and batting sixth. Harold Ramirez, who has primarily played left field this month with Anderson in right and Lewis Brinson in center, has moved over to right field. Curtis Granderson will get spot starts in left field as well.

But neither Dean nor Ramirez has the defensive prowess Anderson did.

Dean, making his third big-league appearance this season, has a negative-five defensive runs saved mark in 165 1/3 innings in left and right field. Ramirez has a zero rating in 669 2/3 innings, splitting time among all three outfield spots.

“We’ll miss that arm that was kind of dominant,” Mattingly said of Anderson. “It kept guys from running from first-to-third. If you get a fly ball there that’s shallow and a play at the plate, you had a shot.”

Cesar Puello, on the injured list since Aug. 5 with a left hip flexor strain, would be the most logical help defensively once he returns. He can play all three spots in the outfield and leads the Marlins with seven defensive runs saved from the outfield in just 213 2/3 innings since joining the Miami club midseason.

Utility man Jon Berti, who has primarily played shortstop since Miguel Rojas went to the IL on Aug. 7, could also return to the outfield down the stretch when Rojas returns from his hamstring strain.

Both Rojas and Puello began rehab assignments on Friday.

“Both guys are obviously showing they’re healthy,” Mattingly said. “Kind of starting the process, getting at-bats, getting the timing back and just getting ready to be called up again.”

Offensively, considering Dean’s .209 batting average and 25 percent strike out rate in 32 big-league games this season, the Marlins will likely need more production from their other middle-of-the-lineup hitters in Neil Walker, Starlin Castro and Garrett Cooper to make sure the collective offense struggles don’t dip in the final month.

Castro has made his presence known again at the plate as of late, hitting .328 with eight home runs, 10 doubles, two triples, 32 RB I and 22 runs scored in 45 games (43 starts) since July 2. He hit two home runs and driving in five runs off the bench in Friday’s win.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Anderson said. “I definitely want to be in there every day, but at the end of the day you’re going to have guys step up.”

The Marlins hope that will be the case.

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.