Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Anderson Makes His Case

Season: 60-72; Home Stand: 1-3

Last night Leslie Anderson hit a home run and a sacrifice fly to account for two of the Bulls three runs. He is up to 53 RBI this year. His batting average of .315 is tied for the lead among International League hitters (and he’s played 26 more games than Jose Constanza of Gwinnett with whom he is tied). His OPS is “only” .826, essentially because he’s really not a home run hitter (he has 13 on the year). Time for him to move up.

Anderson was a star for the Cuban national team and was signed with the Rays after defecting back in early 2010. At the time it was thought that he might have a shot at filling the hole at first base in the Rays system. He moved through the system reasonably quickly that year and spent all of 2011 in Durham. At the end of last year his hitting was just OK (.277) and his OPS nothing special at .727. This year he is obviously much better. Career stats here and here.

A left-handed batter, his numbers against righties are considerably better than against lefties (.631 OPS v. .908 OPS). All but one of his home runs have come off off right-handed pitching.

The question might be, where should he play? This year he has been in the outfield and dh much more than at 1B (44 games in the outfield, 42 at dh, and 20 at 1B). He’s only committed one error (in left field) all year. Of course, left field at the DBAP is not as challenging as other positions. Even so, he has done very well..

He isn’t on the Rays’ 40-man roster, and that’s a huge problem. (See this post.) Nevertheless, his batting average is better than any of the Rays that have anything like his playing time of 107 games, as is his OPS (Note: only two Rays are hitting over .300, Jeff Keppinger (79 games) and Sam Fuld (20 games)). Nevertheless, he has never faced major league pitching, which could be a huge adjustment for him. 

On the other hand, if not now, then when? The Rays have spent about a million dollars a year for his services and, I would assume, a ton of money in lawyers fees just to get him into the country and onto the playing field. Mr. Anderson is 30 years old. Properly marketed he could bring a lot of fans into Tropicana (he really was a famous ballplayer among those who follow Cuban baseball). Obviously not an easy decision, but he has unquestionably worked for it.

As he was quoted in today’s Indy Week:
Last year was a real learning experience for me. I put in a lot of hard work in the off-season, and it’s paying off.
To which Charlie Montoyo followed up:
He’s having a good year, and he’s finishing strong.
We here at WDBB think Leslie Anderson should finish the year with the Tampa Bay Rays.

[Update: One of the local newspapers, the Raleigh News & Observer, did a feature on Anderson this morning.]

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