Garret Anderson Retires

Today, Garret Anderson announced his retirement, ending a long 17-year career, the verdict of which depends on which L.A. team you root for. Anderson hit .293/.324/.461 for his career with 287 home runs and 1365 RBIs. His peak years came in and around the Angels’ 2002 World Series run, averaging 3.2 WAR seasons between 1999 and 2003 and placing fourth in AL MVP voting during the Halos’ championship year. He ends his career as the Angels’ franchise leader in total games played, hits, doubles, total bases, runs, extra-base hits, and RBIs.

Drafted out of the 4th round in 1990 and spurning Division-I basketball offers, he batted .321/.352/.505 with 2.8 WAR in his 1995 rookie season, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting. For 13 seasons after that, Anderson was a fixture in the lineup, always hitting and always healthy. One highlight during his career was winning both the 2003 Home Run Derby and All-Star Game MVP honors by almost hitting for the cycle, the first All-Star at the time to win both awards in the same year since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1991.

One of Anderson’s biggest weaknesses was his lack of walking ability and his low on-base numbers, which was apparent throughout his entire career. He never drew more than 38 walks in a season and walked on only 4.7% of his plate appearances in his career. That’s 9177 total plate appearances with only 429 walks. Of the 147 players in history with over 9000 plate appearances, Anderson had, get this, the fourth lowest walk rate (with Tommy Corcoran, Willie Davis, and Bill Buckner ahead of him) while he posted the second lowest walk-strikeout ratio at 0.35 BB/K, losing to Ivan Rodriguez by a few decimal points. As a result of his inability to take walks, Anderson did not post a higher OBP than his rookie season’s .352 OBP, mostly hovering around the .300-.330 range.

As such, Dodgers and Angels fans will undoubtedly remember Anderson differently. When the Dodgers made a baffled minor league signing of Anderson, who was 37-years-old at the time, most Dodgers fans didn’t think much of it — an Angels’ favorite from across town who was now washed up, what harm could he possibly do? When he made the 25-man roster as a reserve outfielder, Dodgers fans must have thought — hey, that’s sort of weird, but we’ll chalk that up to the organization’s perceived need for a veteran presence to tame those young ones who always seems to run amuck. But when manager Joe Torre continued his unabashed love for veterans by giving Anderson starts in left field and right field, the Dodgers’ blogosphere erupted at management’s unfounded affection, and rightfully so. 163 plate appearances later, 53 of those as a pinch hitter, all Anderson could come up with was .181/.204/.271, the worst of his career (read that batting line again). 2010 also saw the worst walk rate and strikeout rate of his career — 5 walks and 34 strikeouts. All this came at the expense of the development of Xavier Paul, who moved up and down from Triple-A while Anderson mostly stayed put with the big league club.

It’s amazing what 155 at-bats of a .090 ISO can do reverse an entire crosstown rival team fanbase’s perception of a player who has no shot at the Hall of Fame but was a good, solid player. In some ways, the knee-jerk reaction to Anderson’s retirement by Dodgers’ fans is unfair and unwarranted, as Anderson probably should have retired at least a year or two ago. But the guy loved the game, was a positive presence in the clubhouse, and was the overall good guy to Southern Californian baseball fans during his peak years. 163 recent plate appearances shouldn’t overshadow his career, who will be remembered by Angels fans as a very solid hitter and a good defensive left fielder. He and his longtime teammate Tim Salmon helped bring the Angels a World Series championship, and as a baseball fan first and baseball analyst second, I will remember Anderson fondly for his dedication to the game and his quiet production overshadowed by an era of offensive superstars.



Print This Post



Albert Lyu (@thinkbluecrew, LinkedIn) is a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, but will always root for his beloved Northwestern Wildcats. Feel free to email him with any comments or suggestions.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
SC2GG
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

I also respect Garret Anderson, but feel that good teams contributed to his numbers. Definitely a respectable career. The only reason he stayed on too long is because he never was very good at walking away anyway. But, I jest.

Nice little closing report.

dudley
Member
Member
dudley
5 years 2 months ago

Garret Anderson is so good at not clogging up the bases, I think the Reds might have a spot for him.

Danmay
Guest
Danmay
5 years 2 months ago

As an A’s fan I will not miss his career 318/361/485 line against Oakland.

Tim E.
Guest
Tim E.
5 years 2 months ago

Watching him for years growing up in Southern California, I am very surprised his career UZR grades out as well as it does. He certainly didn’t pass the eye test in left field.

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 2 months ago

He was actually quite an adept fielder, just not a flashy one. He got to just about everything and had a powerful arm, albiet with a long release.

Undocorkscrew
Guest
Undocorkscrew
5 years 2 months ago

Imagine, with just 471 more hits he’d probably be a Hall of Famer…..

Then again, Johnny Damon is basically in the same boat with a very realistic shot to reach 3,000. Hall of Famer Johnny Damon……ugh.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 2 months ago

As offense exploded in the 90’s, certain numbers don’t have quite the cache they used to (400 and 500 homers, especially, but also 3000 hits – no guaranteed entry with that anymore, I’m certain. See: J. Damon). Others, particularly on the pitching side (250, 300 wins) will probably carry extra weight because they’re increasingly rare. It all tends to ebb and flow with the generations, some hitter-heavy, some pitcher-prone.

Joe
Guest
Joe
5 years 2 months ago

“Overshadowed in an era of offensive superstars?” If anything, I believe Anderson was *overrated*. People always mentioned him as being a really good player. But he wasn’t really all THAT good. He was a solid player, and was “overshadowed.” But only because many players around were clearly better than Anderson. That being said, he always seemed like a good guy and good teammate. So I don’t want to take that away from him, as his career is more than enough to be proud of.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 2 months ago

“People always mentioned him as being a really good player.”

Did they? Was he ever seriously mentioned in the same breath as Griffey, Bonds, Thomas, Bagwell, Gwynn, Biggio, Alomar, A-rod, Jeter, Nomar, Chipper, Belle, JuanGone, Thome, Walker, Edgar, Rolen, Pujols, Manny, Ortiz, Tex, Cabrera, Howard, Utley, Ichiro, Longoria, Cano, Crawford, Mauer, Damon, Bernie, Beltran, Maggs, Pudge, Piazza….

Joe
Guest
Joe
5 years 2 months ago

I remember him being regarded as a better player than Tim Salmon. And yes, people thought highly of him. Which is why I think he was overrated…

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 2 months ago

Interestingly, his value usually came more from his defense and less from his hitting, which is the opposite to his reputation.

sabernar
Guest
sabernar
5 years 2 months ago

His career OPS+ is 102. His career WAR over 17 years is 27.2 (1.6 WAR/yr). Overshadowed? Yeah, overshadowed by the half of baseball that was better than him.

Joel
Guest
Joel
5 years 2 months ago

His career OPS+ is 102. His career WAR over 17 years is 27.2 (1.6 WAR/yr). Overshadowed? Yeah, overshadowed by the half of baseball that was better than him.

That’s pretty much nonsense…

OPS+ is weighted against platoon players and other part timers in a given season; using that as the metric for a full-time player against part-timers is akin to using ERA+ as the metric for comparing starting pitchers to relievers.

The career numbers take into account his age 30+ decline seasons.

Average MLB players don’t enjoy 17-year careers. Garret Anderson is no Hall of Famer, but he was a fine player.

shthar
Guest
shthar
5 years 2 months ago

Or continuing proof of the stupidity and fear of baseball people.

Justin Bailey
Guest
Justin Bailey
5 years 2 months ago

It’s “run amok.” How hard can it be to hit F7?

Dave
Guest
Dave
5 years 2 months ago

I just think Anderson played in the wrong era. He’d have been a solid/good player in the 60s and 70s, but in the 90s, when everyone had power, he didn’t. When OBP is more accurately valued, his was low.

He was a solid guy, good enough to trot out there for 15+ years, and didn’t make any noise of the diamond. That’s a big deal, too.

Tomahawk Mafia
Guest
Tomahawk Mafia
5 years 2 months ago

The news of his retirement is cathartic to me. As an Atlanta Braves fan, I grew to despise Garret Anderson and his inability to field his LF position or reach base at any consistent clip during the 2009 season. He was a good guy to have around in Anaheim, but by the time he moved over to Atlanta he was a useless player that received far too much playing time. I watched him turn an excessive amount of singles into triples with seemingly lackadaisical play in the outfield and I am glad he has decided to hang up the cleats because the Braves may have won the wildcard in 2009 with any decent production out of the LF position. Ahh, that rant felt good. Thanks Fangraphs.

Nate
Guest
Nate
5 years 2 months ago

As an Angels fan who grew up mostly in the 1990’s, Garret Anderson is a legend from my past. For years on end, I looked forward to seeing him, Tim Salmon, Chuck Finley and a few others play the game. He may not belong in the Hall and may have had a long decline phase that perhaps went a few years longer than it should have; but when he was on the Angels, he made the game fun to watch and was someone a kid like me could look up to. He was one of those players who gave you that feeling that “something good is going to happen” when he came to the plate at an important moment, with the final game of the ’02 World Series as a prime example. Even in his later years with the Angels he was able to prove he still had it at times (the 10-RBI game against the Yankees comes to mind).

GA entertained and inspired me from elementary school through early adulthood, and in the end, that’s what being a baseball fan is about moreso than stats or anything else.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 2 months ago

t’s amazing what 155 at-bats of a .090 ISO can do reverse an entire crosstown rival team fanbase’s perception of a player who has no shot at the Hall of Fame but was a good, solid player.

I’ve never understood why what a player does in the last couple of years of their careers carries such weight.

If people want to remember Junior based on 2009 and 2010, I can’t stop them, but why?

Anderson was solid … and a solid guy on good teams. He lacked flash, which is what people remember (See Alan Trammel).

Anderson was the guy that wouldn’t dive and played it safe, to stay in the lineup. He played next to a guy that was diving all over the place, crashing into walls, and alternating periods of being spectacular and injured.

In terms of being remembered/celebrated, it’s almost advantageous to be a one trick pony, rather than pretty good at multiple things.

Joe
Guest
Joe
5 years 2 months ago

This is why Craig Biggio is not a Hall of Famer.

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 2 months ago

You don’t really believe that, do you?

KimP
Guest
KimP
5 years 2 months ago

I love all you so-called critics. GA got a World Series ring. What do any of you naysayers got?

Joe
Guest
Joe
5 years 2 months ago

Yes, we all hate Garret Anderson and think he is the worst player of all time. Judging players is against the rules for baseball fans!

wpDiscuz