2009 Prospect Duds: Lars Anderson

Boston Red Sox first base prospect Lars Anderson entered 2009 as the top overall prospect in the system, according to Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus. Anderson, 21, had originally been signed to an over-slot deal after being selected out of high school in the 18th round of the 2006 amateur draft.

In pre-2009 comments, Goldstein stated, “He projects for big numbers in all triple-slash categories, and should come lumbering into the middle of the Boston lineup by 2010.”

I was even more aggressive in my adoration of Anderson prior to 2009 and said, “Lars Anderson is the club’s top prospect and he could be knocking on the big-league door by mid-2009… He had an impressive walk rate of 17.9 BB%, but struck out at a rate of 32.3 K%.”

Interestingly, it wasn’t Anderson’s strikeout rate that doomed his 2009 season. It actually dropped from 32.3 K% in 133 double-A at-bats in 2008 to 25.5 K% this season. His walk rate was lower, but it remained more than respectable at 12.4 BB%. The most glaring drop was in the batting average. It dipped from .317 in high-A/double-A in 2008 to .233 in double-A in 2009. His BABIP played a huge part in the shift as it went from .367 (A+) and .435 (AA) to .293. His line-drive rate went from 19.9% (cumulative) last year to 13.0% in ’09.

It’s clear that Anderson’s small sample size numbers at double-A in ’08 (.316/.436/.526 in 133 at-bats) helped to gloss over the impact that the launching-pad-known-as-Lancaster had on his numbers (.921 OPS). That success may have very well buoyed his confidence for his late-season promotion. Even so, a .250 drop in OPS is shocking to the system. After slugging five homers in 133 double-A at-bats in 2008, Anderson hit just nine all year in ’09 in 447 at-bats. His ISO dropped from .200 to .112.

The good news is that Anderson’s plate rates held strong despite his struggles. His pre- and post-All-Star numbers are so different that it’s easy to speculate that a hidden injury may have been the root cause for the steep decline (.272/.366/.413 vs .154/.250/.208). The really good news is that Anderson played the season at the age of 21, so he has plenty of time to turn things around. Incumbent first baseman Kevin Youkilis or even Casey Kotchman can easily hold down the fort until the youngster is ready. He’ll just have to watch over his shoulder for Anthony Rizzo.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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Joe R
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Joe R

No Red Sox fan is panicing yet. 2010 will have a roster of Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, Casey Kotchman, and David Ortiz, and Jeff Bailey still in AAA if we need him (I think). Anderson has plenty of time to work out whatever the heck happened to him in 2009 (I assume it was his LD rate).

joser
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joser

In my experience Red Sox fans are always panicking about something — a multi-decade inferiority complex doesn’t evaporate overnight, even after two WS wins.

Joe R
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Joe R

This is minor league prospects, you think 90% of Red Sox nation knows shit about minor league farmhands?

Most people who even know who Lars Anderson is probably have no idea how much he stunk it up in Portland this season. The good thing about a huge fanbase is team success. The bad thing is that you get a higher ratio of people who have nothing to add to a baseball conversation outside of JD Drew’s batting average killing the team or how Dice-K only cares about the WBC.

Omar
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Omar

To Joe R, Lars Anderson got plenty of hype during the Teixeira saga. He was on the front page of BDD, and he was listed as a reason as to why Teixeira wasn’t necessary. The fans that actually like the team know who he is, the B cap wearing d-bags and annoying chicks who think it’s cute to wear a B cap that infest college campuses may not know who he is…then again, they didn’t know who Jason Bay was prior to the Manny trade.

Joe R
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Joe R

True. But like I’ve said before, when you have a fanbase like Boston’s, your bound to have a fair share of idiots. Ones that tend to make their mind up about a guy within their first 10-15 games. It just stuns me when people claim to be rapid fans of a team and then show such blatant ignorance to everything outside the little bubble; why be a fan of a team when you’re not a fan of the sport?

/random tangent

Omar
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Omar

Were they really counting on Anderson? I mean even if it wasn’t just a bad year, it’s pretty dumb to count on a prospect who hasn’t even made it past AA to hold a future roster spot.

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