The OF of the late-2000s was largely a mess and that brings us to the subject of the day, Braves One Year Wanker Garret Anderson.
The Have Nots and Has Beens
If thinking about the outfield of the late aughts Braves makes you ache, then you’re probably remembering how poorly constructed and colossal disappointments they were.
By the time the run reached around 2007, the Braves had really run out of homegrown talent. Andruw Jones was nearing the end of his tenure, Ryan Langerhans’ bat had never really developed, and Jeff Francoeur had already started to show that he was not going to be able to make the adjustments to become an All-Star. If not for Matt Diaz, they would have had almost no production in the outfield. By 2008, the cupboard was bare with seemingly no reinforcements on the way. Gregor Blanco, Mark Kotsay, and Jeff Francoeur earned the most PAs in the outfield that year with only Kotsay being remotely acceptable (100 OPS+).
2009 comes, and there’s still nothing. They trade for Nate McLouth to play center, and he’s mostly ok with a 104 OPS+. He wouldn’t implode until the next year. Jeff Francoeur was clearly done, and after a .250/.282/.352 line halfway through 2009, the Braves ship him off for Ryan Church. Church is decent as a LH bat, but there’s still no full-time corner outfielders. Matt Diaz is doing a tremendous job crushing lefties and trying to convince you he can play outfield. But worst of all was who they handed left field to that year: ACHE. Mac Thomason coined that nickname for him, which was an acronym for “Anderson, Cleanup Hitter Extraordinaire.” Obviously we’re talking about Garrett Anderson, one of the worst players to be given a full season of PAs since the early 90’s run began.
Braves One Year Wanker, Garret Anderson
For his career, Garret Anderson was a perfectly cromulent player for the Anaheim teams of the 90’s and 00’s. But that’s about the best I can say about him. He had a career OPS+ of 102, though he did have a couple nice seasons in his peak that allowed him to make a couple All-Star teams and get a couple MVP votes. But he never won a Gold Glove, was never considered to be particularly athletic, and by the time he came to Atlanta at the age of 37, he was done. I can’t decide what was worse; his .268/.303/.401 line (85 OPS+), or the fact that he earned 534 PAs that year and logged 19 games as our clean-up hitter. Who cares; they’re both depressing.
All told, he ended the year with a -1.1 fWAR, a tremendous amount of suck for a team seemingly trying to win their division. They tried to get him off the field. Matt Diaz logged quite a bit of time in LF, especially against lefties, but Diaz was needed in RF because Frenchy had become so terrible. Jordan Schafer, in his rookie season after having tremendous Success as a prospect, only played center. Had he hit, which he did not, he might have played a lot of left field. But to be in a situation where your best possible option for a clear offensive position and the 4th and 5th spots in your lineup is a 37-year old, decrepit outfielder who was really not that good anyway, that’s simple organizational failure.
Braves One Year Wanker, Garret Anderson: An ACHE Repeat?
He’s a lesson for this season, as today’s version of ACHE might very well be Nick Markakis, a left-handed hitting late-30’s outfielder who also had such a low peak that we probably can’t survive his decline. Fortunately, if Nick becomes ACHE, then we have options that weren’t available to the Braves in 2009. I know I can’t survive two of these.
Thanks for reading on Braves One Year Wanker, Garret Anderson. If you enjoyed this piece, check out this wanker, Denny McLain.