Valuing Garrett

A wide array of left-fielders hit the free agent market this off-season, and to date, just Raul Ibanez has signed a contract. The others garnering the majority of discussions are Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, and Manny Ramirez. These four, and Ibanez, are classic examples of all-hitting, no-fielding players, whose values diminish due to their time spent in the field. Ken Griffey, Jr has mentioned a desire to continue his career, and he also falls into the mix. One left-fielder available who does not fit this bill is Garrett Anderson.

In fact, if anything, Anderson is more of the opposite: a solid fielder whose hitting skills are declining. Due to this, rumors of Anderson potentially signing as a designated hitter seem to make little sense. Regardless, Anderson’s name does not appear too often in free agency discussions. Anderson now is different than the same player from a decade or so ago, but even back then certain numbers masked his true level of effectiveness.

From 1997-2003, Anderson ranged from 183-201 hits per season, 36-56 doubles, and 15-35 home runs. Looking solely at these numbers, which many do, Anderson appears to have had an extremely solid 7-year offensive peak. His wOBA tells a different story, however; outside of the .371 in 2003 and .363 in 2002, his wOBA ranged from .325-.342 throughout the peak. His wRAA numbers in the same 7-year span: -3.8, +1.8, +0.7, +1.0, +4.3, +20.6, +24.5. The latter two seasons correspond to the high wOBA seasons of 2002 and 2003, but prior to that, he was virtually a league average hitter.

Last year, he produced a wOBA of .326, resulting in -1.4 batting runs. UZR had him worth +6.2 defensive runs in left-field, though, and with the prorated adjustments for position and replacement level, Garret was worth +18.9 runs last year. This converts to roughly +1.9 wins, deeming him just slightly below average.

Marcel projects Anderson at a .319 wOBA in 2009 and -6.1 batting runs. Weighting his UZR, +4.5 defensive runs seems like a somewhat realistic expectation. Prorating the aforementioned adjustments places the 2009 Garret Anderson at +7.4 runs, or +0.74 wins. His fair market value, therefore, would be somewhere in the vicinity of $3.7 mil for a one-year deal. Something tells me Anderson will sign for much more than that, as he is coming off three straight years earning $10+ mil.

As a left-fielder, though, and not a DH, his projection is very similar to that of Abreu and Burrell’s. While he will command more than his fair market value, Anderson could likely be had for a lesser fee than these two former Phillies. So, if any team is looking for a legitimate left-fielder, perhaps their attentions should be turned to Anderson.

Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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david h
14 years ago

I think you might be a bit too generous to Anderson’s defense. He’s been fluctuating between positive and negative UZRs since turning 33, and his average since then is about 1 run on the positive side. The samples have grown smaller each of those years too. Considering an expected decline due to his age, turning 37 next year, I’d peg him at neutral in the field.