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Garret Anderson’s Gotta Go

Since he was drafted back in 1990 by the then-California Angels, Garret Anderson has enjoyed a fine, respectable career. The three-time All-Star established himself as a steady two-to-three WAR player with the Halos in his mid-to-late twenties. During the Angels’ World Series-winning 2002 season, Anderson contributed 3.6 WAR and he followed up with a five-win campaign in 2003.

That was a long time ago, though. Anderson was a sub-optimal starter for the Angels from 2004-2008, combating numerous nagging injuries and averaging about 0.9 WAR per season. Things got even worse last year after he departed the LAA organization — Anderson was 0.9 wins below replacement with the Atlanta Braves in 2009. This past March, the Dodgers picked him up on a minor league contract. And, as Dave Cameron noted in his commentary on the Scott Podsednik trade, Anderson has been all sorts of awful:

Podsednik is more of a role player than an everyday guy, but he’s good enough to be a useful part timer on a team that needs one. And, more importantly, he gives the Dodgers a reason to stop using Garret Anderson.

It’s hard to overstate how bad Anderson has been this year. He’s been worth -13.8 runs in just 112 plate appearances, a historically awful offensive performance. He’s just completely finished as a major leaguer, but because he has the veteran label, Torre has continued to use him.

G.A. now has 160 plate appearances, and his lumber has been worth -14.1 runs. The 38-year-old’s triple-slash is .184/.208/.276, and his wOBA is .211.

Just how bad has Anderson’s “hitting” been compared to the game’s all-time out-making luminaries? To get an idea of where his slack bat places historically, I turned to Baseball-Reference’s Play Index Tool. I searched for hitters from 1901 to 2010 who posted a 32 OPS+ or worse (Anderson’s currently got a 32 OPS+) during a season in which they had at least 160 plate appearances.

There have been 150 player seasons meeting that criteria since 1901, with Boston Brave Frank O’Rourke‘s 1912 taking the title of most punch less performance over that time frame. Let’s focus on the players who have been the pitcher’s best friend since the turn of the millennium. Believe it or not, Anderson’s sordid season isn’t actually the worst we’ve seen in 2010:

2000: Todd Dunwoody (Royals), 29 OPS+ in 195 PA
2001: Donnie Sadler (Red/Royals), 18 OPS+ in 211 PA
2001: Brandon Inge (Tigers), 24 OPS+ in 202 PA
2002: Jorge Fabregas (Angels/Brewers), 27 OPS+ in 169 PA
2003: Ryan Christenson (Rangers), 30 OPS+ in 186 PA
2004: Doug Glanville (Phillies), 30 OPS+ in 175 PA
2006: Paul Bako (Royals), 28 OPS+ in 167 PA
2006: Tomas Perez (Devil Rays), 32 OPS+ 254 PA
2008: Tony Pena Jr. (Royals), 7 OPS+ in 235 PA
2009: Aaron Miles (Cubs), 20 OPS+ in 170 PA
2010: Brandon Wood (Angels), 10 OPS+ in 184 PA
2010: Garret Anderson (Dodgers), 32 OPS+ in 160 PA

Brandon Wood has “bested” Anderson. He’s got the 13th-worst OPS+ among players with 160+ PA since Theodore Roosevelt took over as U.S. president following William McKinley’s assassination. Anderson places in a tie for 141st. So, he’s got that going for him.

With Podsednik and Xavier Paul both better options to fill in for the injured Manny Ramirez (Reed Johnson is due back soon, too), Anderson just doesn’t have a place on the Dodgers’ roster. The club can’t afford to keep on trotting him out there when he’s making outs like few others have in the history of the game.