Garret Anderson

Anderson started the 1995 season in Triple-A, but was called up to the Angels in late May when Tony Phillips moved to third base. The left-handed LA native quickly impressed Anaheim fans with a fine performance at the plate (.321, 16, 70), finishing second only to Minnesota’s Marty Cordova in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. However, by the end of the season opposing pitchers had learned to exploit Anderson’s main faults — namely, impatience and a fatal willingness to chase bad pitches. After a red-hot July (he was named AL Player of the Month) Garret struck out 22 times in the month of August; he ended the season with 65 whiffs against just 19 walks.

Such troubling strikeout-to-walk ratios have been the norm throughout Anderson’s young career. Nevertheless, he has remained a productive player at the plate; his career batting average over his first six seasons stood at .300. Defensively, Anderson has good speed but a relatively weak arm. In his rookie season, Anderson led all Angels outfielders with five errors (third-most in the AL) but by 1997 he had raised his fielding percentage to .992. Normally a left fielder, Anderson started 120 games in right in 1998 while filling in for the injured Tim Salmon and was moved to center field in 1999 when Jim Edmonds began the season on the DL.

Critics sometimes point to Anderson’s even-keeled approach as being symptomatic of a lack of focus. In August 1998, manager Terry Collins had benched him for not running out a routine grounder, and by the start of the 1999 season, Anderson was regarded as the “fourth outfielder” behind Salmon, Edmonds, and Darin Erstad. Nevertheless, Anderson came through in the clutch when injuries ravaged the Angels, and after a fine season (.303, 21 HR, 80 RBIs) he was named the team MVP.