Anderson’s Flash with Tribe was the Final of his Career
Throughout the 1990s, the Indians seemed to enjoy acquiring players that tormented them come October. In 1997, they acquired David Justice and Marquis Grissom from Atlanta. Before the 1999 season, they signed Roberto Alomar. However, once the next decade started, that art slowly began to diminish as the Indians entered a rebuilding process. They did sign one final October foe, and that man is this week’s Flash in a Pan.
Anderson, notorious for the ludicrous numbers he put up in 1996, signed with the Indians after Baltimore released him following the 2001 season. Anderson’s tenure in Cleveland was short and uneventful. He only played in 34 games in which he hit just .163 with a home run and five RBI.
Brady Anderson was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 10th round of the 1985 amateur draft. Anderson’s numbers in the minors made him rocket through the system. He hit a combined .299 in his first three seasons in the minors, sharing time between Elmira, Winter Haven, New Britain and Pawtucket. Finally, Anderson made his MLB debut on Apr. 4, 1988 against the Detroit Tigers. In his debut, he went 3-5 with three singles and a strikeout.
Unfortunately for Boston, Anderson had trouble producing for the organization, so they shipped him off to Baltimore along with a minor league pitcher named Curt Schilling for Mike Boddicker. Boddicker was decent for the Red Sox, but Anderson would help the Orioles become a force throughout the 90s and Curt Schilling’s legacy speaks for itself.
Baltimore saw Anderson struggle in his first three and a half seasons in an Orioles jersey. The highest he hit was .231 in 1990. He never hit more than four home runs (1989) and 27 RBI (1991). However, once the calendar switched to 1992, Anderson rewarded the Orioles for their patience.
Anderson’s coming-out party lasted 159 days for Orioles fans in 1992. In those 159 days, Anderson hit .271 with 21 home runs and 80 RBI, easily shattering any previous career high he had set. He also swiped 53 bases while drawing 98 walks and striking out the same number of times. He made his first All-Star appearance that year and finished 14th in the MVP voting.
For the next three seasons, Anderson’s numbers teetered just below the lines he put up in ’92. His batting average was about as consistent as anyone’s in the Majors, as he hit .263 twice and .262 the third year. The closest he came to matching his 21 home run performance of 1992 was in 1995, when he hit 16. Unfortunately for Anderson, the desire to keep up with the other sluggers around the MLB came at the expense of his patience, as he struck out a career-high 111 times in the shortened season.
In 1996, Anderson caught lightning in a bottle. As bad as that cliché may be, it’s the most accurate way of putting it. Anderson obliterated almost every single career high he had set in 1992. He hit .297 with 50 home runs and 110 RBI, en route to his second All-Star Game and first playoff appearance. In the ALDS against Cleveland, Anderson hit .294 to help Baltimore dispose of the Indians in four games. He hit homers in games one and two to help Baltimore jump out to a 2-0 series lead that the Indians would not recover from. Unfortunately for Anderson and the Orioles, he was unable to duplicate that performance for the ALCS as he only hit .190 with a solo home run as the Yankees and Jeffrey Maier took out the Orioles in five games.
After a season like that, Anderson’s expectations were through the roof in 1997. While his numbers couldn’t match his ’96 stats, he was still a solid leadoff man. He hit .288 with 18 homers and 73 RBI as he was chosen to his second consecutive All Star Game. The most amazing thing about his 1997 campaign is that he put up those numbers despite playing most of the season with a broken rib. He helped Baltimore wrap up the AL’s best record that year, and he was simply outstanding once October baseball rolled around. In Baltimore’s four-game win over Seattle in the ALDS, Anderson hit .353 with a homer and four RBI. The ALCS was a dramatic rematch against the same Indians that he helped eliminate the year before. He hit .360 against the Indians with two homers and three RBI. However, it wasn’t enough for the Orioles as the Indians got their revenge and clinched a spot in the World Series.
Anderson’s career in Baltimore lasted four more seasons, with a steady decline beginning in 1999. After hitting .282 with 24 home runs and 81 RBI that year, his numbers in all three categories would decline. His Baltimore career hit rock bottom in 2001 when he hit just .202 eight home runs and 45 RBI in 131 games. He was released after the season and signed by the Indians.
To this day, Anderson still holds the single-season Orioles record for total bases, home runs, extra base hits, and hit by pitches. Last year, he was named special assistant to the executive vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles. If he can help another player come close to replicating the 1996 season he had, it would make him a very special assistant.