Anderson more name than substance

February, 22, 2009
02/22/09
9:12
PM ET

The Atlanta Braves have signed Garret Anderson to a one-year, $2.5 million contract (according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and Anderson is expected to join the team in the next two days.

This signing comes as many of the older free-agent outfielders have chosen destinations other than Atlanta. Ken Griffey Jr. narrowed his choices to the Braves and Seattle before picking the Mariners, Adam Dunn went to the Nationals, Bobby Abreu went to the Angels and, of course, Manny Ramirez is still out there. Anderson therefore will occupy one of the final corner outfield spots left in this particular game of musical chairs.

Anderson has spent his entire 15-year career with the Angels (in fact, he spent his first four years as a "California Angel"), so he'll obviously have to adjust to National League pitching. He goes to a pretty good hitters' park in Atlanta. And he's likely to occupy left field full-time and hit in the middle of the order, unless he just absolutely can't compete against lefties, in which case he'll probably platoon some with Matt Diaz. So the opportunity should be there for Anderson.

The problem, however, is production. In 557 at-bats last year, Anderson managed only 15 homers, making 2008 his fifth straight season with fewer than 20. His on-base percentage hasn't exceeded .336 for four seasons, and he hasn't driven in more than 96 in five, despite regularly hitting in the middle of a pretty good batting order. He'll be 37 in June and I simply don't see him as a viable mixed-league option. In an NL-only league? Sure, he'll deserve a roster spot, but considering his OPS has been below .789 in four of the past five years, he's nothing to get excited about. If you pay a lot for Anderson, you're buying a name, and the long-ago memory of a 30-homer, 100-RBI batter.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner across all three of those sports. You can e-mail him here.

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