By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player's season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays' plans going forward.
Our second review comes in the form of Brett Anderson, the once-promising lefty who made his debut in 2009 by tossing 175 1/3 innings with the Oakland A's and putting up 3.5 fWAR (according to Fangraphs), getting himself a $12.5 million extension over four years (after just one big league season). From that point on, Anderson's name was synonymous with injury. The injuries mounted and Anderson had only one complete season after 2009 and that was in 2015 with the Los Angeles Dodgers for whom he threw 180 1/3 innings with a 3.69 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.
Anderson started 2017 with the Chicago Cubs, coming off a 2016 season that began with back surgery, and finished with four games over August and September and an 11.91 ERA. Paid $3.5 million for 2017 by the Cubs, Anderson started the year with two solid starts but had his hat handed to him (pun intended, keep reading) in his third outing, giving up six runs against Milwaukee. While he won his next outing, he lasted just 1 1/3 innings and 1/3 of an inning in his next two starts, giving up 12 runs overall before going on the DL. Trying to come back in double-A Tennessee in July, he was released after six outings there and signed on with the Blue Jays a month later, making his triple-A Buffalo debut on August 19.
In two starts with Buffalo, Anderson allowed only one run on four hits and two walks over 9 2/3 innings before he was promoted to Toronto to plug a hole in the starting rotation and he stuck around for the rest of the season, taking the ball every fifth day. While he started and finished on a strong note (5 2/3 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 3 K on August 29, 5 IP, 3 H, 3 K on October 1), he had a really rough outing on September 20 (1 1/3 IP, 8 R, 7 H, 2 BB) that statistically drowned out the rest of his solid work with Toronto. That start, however, caused Anderson to tear up his hat, apparently using his teeth to help get the job started.
Yes, the 5.13 ERA over 33 1/3 innings is rather high, as is the 1.44 WHIP (more on the "average" part of the spectrum), Anderson had a very good 6.4 % walk rate and a somewhat-low 15.7% strikeout rate but he got a very respectable 48.6% of his contact on the ground.
If a quality start is six innings pitched with three runs allowed or fewer, two of Anderson's seven starts would be of "quality" although he only allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings in his first one and threw five scoreless innings in his last. He gave up more than three runs just once (the eight-run game) and went between five and six innings in all of his starts but two. Baseball Reference gives him a 0.3 rWAR for his time as a Blue Jay while Fangraphs is more generous, giving him 0.6fWAR.
Could the Blue Jays try to sign Anderson for 2018? It might not be a bad idea depending on how the budget shakes out. He could be a decent lefty who could provide some innings (if he stays healthy) on a one-year deal. He's obviously going to be motivated and a similar, $3.5-million deal to the one he got last year from Chicago would be a sound investment in my mind, particularly if it was loaded with incentives. The big question is whether his solid time in Toronto was enough for him to bring in either a) more money for a guaranteed one-year deal, or b) a multi-year deal. If either is the case, I wouldn't be surprised if the Jays look for someone with a track record of better durability.
Anderson is a free agent.
Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: C
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Check out the Handbook page for more information!