Tigers Top Ten Disappointments: #2 Matt Anderson


Once in a while during a slow off-season, as a writer you have to look around for some inspiration. I was doing so one day last week, when I came across a top 10 bum list from one of Fansided’s other baseball sites, Lasorda’s Lair. I thought, that is a pretty good idea, and at least could be some fun for me anyway. So a big nod to them for the idea, and please check out their list as well.

My list of Tigers bums doesn’t go back too far in history. Approximately the past 30 years or so, and while I am sure that there is going to be some dispute about the list (hint: Jason Grilli is not on it), I wanted to let you know what I was thinking before I start this list. Essentially, it’s about performance, or lack of it, coupled with the expectation that the player would perform. A player’s draft status, and/or who they were traded for played a role in deciding who was on this list. As well as what they have/had done the rest of their careers.

Turn the page for the Tigers 2nd biggest disappointment on my list.

What can you say? I got the 3rd straight Tigers draftee on this list now, and of course I saved the best(?) for last. Matt Anderson not only was a first round pick, but he was the 1st pick overall in the 1997 draft. With that, comes the highest of expectations, and as it turned out, Matt Anderson shoulders crumbled under those expectations.

I can see why the Tigers and GM Randy Smith fell in love with the arm. Anderson was sitting around and touching the century mark in a time when pitchers weren’t really doing that regularly. Now, pitchers sit in the upper 90’s out of the pen as easy as it is for us to brush our teeth. Well, hopefully that’s easy for us.

While Anderson lacked a lot of things, his biggest issue could be tied to his delivery. The only way I can describe it is that Anderson would sling the ball, instead of having one compact smooth motion. It wasn’t pretty, and eventually led to a muscle tear near his armpit that Anderson’s couldn’t really recover from, as it sapped his only redeeming quality as a pitcher, his velocity.

But eventually losing his velocity to injury wasn’t Anderson’s only issue. He wasn’t that good before the injury, and lacked ideal demeanor for a late inning reliever as well. His delivery caused other problems, most notably his command and consistency on the mound. Anderson walked a whopping 5.5/9, while only striking out 7.9/9. He may have threw hard, but he hardly threw it where he wanted. Not being able to place his fastball on the corners really hurt Anderson more so than most hard throwers. The reason being is most guys that throw hard, have some semblance of a secondary pitch. Anderson didn’t.

Yeah, Matt threw a slider. But throwing it, and throwing it effectively are two different things. Anderson’s slider was so inconsistent, and so difficult for him to command, hitters could sit on one pitch when facing him in the box. The only truly decent season he had was when no one was familiar with him as a rookie. In his rookie year, Anderson posted an ERA of 3.27 in 44 innings. After that, things went downhill and never returned to goodness.

Anderson went on to pitch 5 more seasons with the Tigers, including the muscle tear year of 2002. His next best ERA after his rookie season was 4.72, and he finished with a career WHIP of 1.582. Anderson gave up a good amount of home runs as well. Basically, there is much evidence to show that Matt Anderson wasn’t worth a #1 pick period, let alone the #1 pick overall.

Anderson did attempt a come back last year in spring training with the Philadelphia Phillies, but failed to make it out spring training with the Phillies.

Now that the novelty of throwing 100mph is slowly wearing off on people who follow baseball, Matt Anderson should be a cautionary tale to teams that fall in love with velocity. It is important, but as we can see, it isn’t the be all end all.

Because he was the 1st overall pick in the draft, and performed worse than Jason Grilli before he got injured, Matt Anderson is the 2nd biggest disappointment on my list.