One thing I’m noticing in the bigger picture sorta way is there’s gonna be more pitchers in this fantasy baseball rookies series this year than other years. The nature of the season made it more conducive for rookies to be called up, and rookie pitchers had no way of exceeding eligibility requirements. On a side but related note, this year made it abundantly clear that teams only keep prospects down in the minors because of phony money concerns. I mean, the concerns are phony, not that their money is phony. It’s real, and absurd. Not to become Willy Woke, but if a guy is worth $5 billion dollars; he can afford to promote a prospect and lose control of him a year early. On another side but related note, how many teams in the playoffs would’ve not been in the playoffs or there with a totally different looking rotation? It’s hard to imagine the Braves getting to the playoffs with the rotation of Max Fried, Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson. That’s not to say I don’t like them (to varying degrees). But if, say, the Braves called up Ian Anderson in May, his arm would’ve been so taxed by the playoffs, or just shut down. It’s interesting (to me, at least) to think of what a guy like Ian Anderson would’ve been in a 162-game season. Him especially, because he could’ve been up in May, and pitched 150 IP. I have an idea! Let’s actually figure out what he can do in a full season! Bravo, Grey, an ingenious plan! So, what can we expect from Ian Anderson for 2021 fantasy baseball?
In Double and Triple-A in 2019, Ian Anderson threw 135 2/3 IP with dazzling numbers in Double-A (2.68 ERA, 11.9 K/9 in 111 IP), but middling results in a short stint in Triple-A (6.57 ERA, 6.57 BB/9, which should win something because they’re the same numbers — prolly would’ve won another year in Triple-A). Ian Anderson followed all those minor league numbers with his major league debut this year and the stats in 32 1/3 IP: 1.95 ERA, 11.4 K/9 (drool), 3.9 BB/9 (drooling because you fell asleep on the couch), then in the postseason a 4.8 BB/9 through 18 2/3 IP, but a 11.6 K/9 and 0.96 ERA. Small sample? Sure, but they’re telling me something. The stats are ‘they.’ If you could engineer a season that would benefit a guy with terrible command that no one knew about, I’d give Ian Anderson a season like we just saw.
Scouting reports are only going to take a hitter so far. Ian Anderson only faced one team more than once (Marlins) that he dominated, and the Marlins aren’t exactly the most patient of teams. Anderson saw the Dodgers twice in the playoffs, and neither result was great. If the MLB schedule is back to normal in 2021 (no guarantee, but I’d expect it), Anderson is going to face a bunch of tougher, more patient hitters twice, three maybe four times. By the time a team faces Anderson a 2nd time, his success at throwing hard, but nowhere near the plate, might bite him in the ass. One team who was the 2nd best in the league in OBP (the Mets — yeah, it surprised me too), drew four walks from Anderson in 4 2/3 IP. Don’t get me wrong, I think Anderson’s command gets better as he matures, but he’s only 22 years old.
The number of swings outside the zone generating strikes by Ian Anderson was 27.6%. If he qualified, that would’ve been the 2nd worst in the league behind Martin Perez. If a guy has great command or doesn’t rely on strikeouts, that’s not as bad as it sounds. Woodruff, Giolito and Bauer all generate a low number of swings outside the zone, but they also have much better command or are dominating in the zone. Taking one of those guys: Lucas Giolito generated 74.6% of contact on pitches in the zone. That’s excellent. Only deGrom was better. It goes without saying, which is what I say before saying it, if you’re throwing in the zone and no one’s making contact, it’s good. Ian Anderson’s contact in the zone? 81.4%. Not bad, better than league average, but not elite.
Ian Anderson will be great, and become known for an elite change. He is not a 1.95 ERA pitcher. He may not even be a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher in 2021. I like him, just trying to throw some cold water on people’s pants tents to make sure people aren’t too enamored by their small samples. For 2021, I’ll give Ian Anderson projections 8-7/3.78/1.24/157 in 132 IP.