Brett Anderson of Oakland Athletics: Can He Overcome His Biggest Obstacle?

Bryan CurleyCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2011

How much will Oakland's offense impact Anderson's fantasy value?
How much will Oakland's offense impact Anderson's fantasy value?Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

As we close in on the start of the 2011 baseball season, one of the most fascinating players—in my opinion at least—is Brett Anderson of the Oakland Athletics.

I mean, where should this guy be drafted in fantasy leagues? He has elite potential, but Oakland's pedestrian offense will limit his win potential, and without dominating strikeout numbers he might only be a force in ERA and WHIP.

How did we get here in Anderson's short career? Oakland's top pitching prospect had a nice rookie season in 2009, finishing 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. He showed a good ability to keep the ball down, inducing grounders on about half the balls put in play, and he walked very few batters (2.31 BB/9).

Those numbers made Anderson the 132nd player off draft boards last season on average, but injuries conspired to shorten his sophomore season. When the left-hander did take the mound, though, he was one of the most effective starters in the American League. His walk rate dropped, his ground ball rate climbed north of 50 percent, and Anderson found himself the owner of a nifty 2.80 ERA and 3.21 FIP.

While I expect Anderson to have one of the best ERAs in the American League this year, strikeout rates and Oakland's offense will prevent him from reaching elite status this season.

The A's have one of the game's best bullpens and we can expect Anderson's LOB percentage to be better than league average once again, but it will be difficult for him to win 15-plus games with the kind of run support we expect.

As for the strikeouts, Anderson's K/9 fell to 6.07 last year and he's allowing too much contact on pitches within the strike zone. Last season batters made contact with 93.5 percent of pitches Anderson threw in the strike zone and he induced swinging strikes just 6.3 percent of the time.

Cole Hamels, possibly Anderson's closest comparison, allowed batters to make contact with just 83.6 percent of pitches in the strike zone and induced swinging strikes almost twice as often (11.9 percent). These numbers helped Hamels to 9.10 K/9.


2011 Fantasy Overview

Wins will continue to be Anderson's Achilles heel, and without dominating strikeout numbers he will derive most of his value from what should be a top-notch ERA and WHIP. Increased strikeout rates are certainly a possibility, and improvement to the tune of 8.0 K/9 or higher isn't out of the question. However, much higher than that is unlikely.


Fearless Forecast

 13-10 | 3.23 ERA | 1.17 WHIP | 180 K | 7.9 K/9 | 205 IP

For more 2011 fantasy baseball news and other player projections, check out Baseball Professor.