Braves 2021 Player Review: Ian Anderson

If nothing else, Ian Anderson has established himself as a dominant postseason pitcher. He has ice in his veins and no moment is too big for this young gun. His World Series game 3 no-hitter was nothing short of phenomenal, even if it was only for 5 innings (I think I would’ve let him keep going, but it was refreshing to see Snit lean into the new school methodology). Through 8 career postseason starts now Anderson holds a 1.26 ERA in 35.2 IP. It would be great to see him go further into games, but even in the regular season he hasn’t been that guy just yet.

2021 Results

Anderson really settled into his role as the Braves #3 starter and flashed his upside throughout the campaign. He started 24 games, throwing 128.1 innings, both of which were 4x his 2020 totals. His 3.58 ERA was a far cry from 2020s 1.95, but nobody was expecting him to repeat that. Interestingly enough, all of Anderson’s pitches took a step forward in terms of average velocity, but his overall advanced metrics all regressed from elite to more around league average. The biggest alarm for me was that Anderson’s minor league HR/9 total of 0.37 was one of his biggest assets, but he posted a 1.1 figure in 2021. This was severely raised by a 2.4 HR/9 in his final 5 starts of the year. Something just seemed off when he returned from his brief stint on the IL, but he left it all in the past come the postseason.

Postseason Success

The Braves have only lost 1 of Anderson’s 8 career postseason starts, winning all 4 in 2021. Anderson has allowed just 1 HR with the aforementioned 1.26 ERA and has carried a K/9 just north of 10 through his 35.2 postseason innings. At just 23 years old and already has more postseason success than some 20-year veterans, and with the state of the Braves he looks primed to get plenty more opportunities in the near future.

Looking Ahead

It’s no secret Anderson needs to find a way to go deeper into games. I think a full season of starts and the training that came along with it under his belt will help him grow and become a more efficient pitcher. Fangraphs has him projected for 166 IP in 29 starts, which would be a bit shy of 6 innings per start, much better than the 5.1 he’s averaged thus far in his career. Anderson’s stuff is undeniable, if he continues to hone his craft and build on his control and efficiency, there’s no reason he can’t be a top of the rotation guy. Don’t be surprised if he ends up wiggling his way into the Cy Young conversation, after placing in the top 7 in rookie of the year voting in both 2020 and 2021. Expect Anderson to build on last year and finish with roughly 3-4 WAR in another full season as the Braves #3 starter.

Author: Matt P

Hello, I’m Matt Pocza! I am a 4th year finance and economics student at the University of Florida and I love the Atlanta Braves. I’ve played baseball my entire life, and I am a sidearm pitcher for the club team at Florida. I also enjoy scuba diving, football and business. Follow me on twitter @braves_rumors!

10 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: Ian Anderson”

  1. Thanks Matt. I think “wiggling his way into the Cy Young conversation” is still Ian’s ceiling, which is plenty high.

    If Fangraphs is correct that he makes 29 starts and totals 166 innings, that would have put him at 34th in MLB in innings pitched in 2021. If he kept that 5.7 inning per start and instead made 31 starts, he would have been 28th in IP in 2021. I continue to find these starts mesmerizing that merely showing up and making solid 30 starts puts you in the upper echelon of the league, a place Ian could join as early as his second full big league season. Very impressive.

  2. Just some more fun stats about pitcher’s qualifying:

    -Not that it’s a huge shock that the most one team can usually muster is 3 pitchers qualifying for the ERA title, only three produced that feat last year: Cincinnati, Oakland, and the White Sox. Two teams were able to in 2020. 2019 saw three teams have 4 pitchers qualify (Washington, St. Louis and the Cubs), and 5 teams saw 3 pitchers qualifying, one of which was Atlanta.
    -Last year, Atlanta had 2 pitchers qualify for the ERA title: Morton and Fried.
    -Amongst our division rivals, Washington had only one pitcher qualify (Corbin), though Scherzer was traded away mid-season and did qualify. The Mets had one (Stroman), Miami one (Alcantara), and Philly two (Wheeler and Nola), though they did acquire Kyle Gibson mid-season, who also qualified.
    -19 teams (!!) had either 1 or no pitchers qualify for the ERA title. Yikes.

  3. I lost track of things while COVID infused. Just today found out Dan Reeves died on 1/1. Memorial today.
    The best sports anecdote I ever heard was from him. He spoke at my 4th grade midget football banquet (in his home town of Americus). He said in the great frozen tundra game in Green Bay, he took a big hit to the mouth in the first half. He went in at halftime and blood started running down his face. They put multiple stitches in his lip (8?). The blood had stopped after the hit because it froze.

  4. Because Ian needs so many pitches to get through his innings, he is the most stressful SP to watch for me. Having said that, he has been masterful in the post season. I just hope he has shorter innings going forward. He is not a fast worker, is he?

  5. @6 and 8 — Anyone who says they know is a lot more confident than they should be. These are 16- to 17-year -olds who have never touched a bat or ball in a competitive league. About the most you can say about them right now is that they improve the organization’s lower-level depth. More than that, we just have to wait and see.

    Remember that Kevin Maitan was a generational prospect.

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