Garrett Anderson: World Series Champion, Potential Hall of Famer, Unemployed

AndersonThe Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Los Angeles Angels have failed to pick up veteran outfielder Garrett Anderson’s $14 million option for next season. At 36, Anderson has spent his entire career with the Angeles, and leads the franchise in numerous categories including games (2,013), runs (1,024), hits (2,368) and RBIs (1,292).

The Angels will pick up club options for right-hander John Lackey ($9 million) and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero ($15 million). But Anderson, a Los Angeles native who has never played for another organization, will be bought out of his contract for $3 million — though the team has not ruled out re-signing him as a free agent.

“We’re going to continue talking with him,” General Manager Tony Reagins said of Anderson, who hit .293 with 15 home runs and 84 runs batted in last season, when he made $12 million. “He still wants to play. He still thinks he can play a significant role, as far as getting 500 or 600 at-bats. We just need to determine whether we have that place for him.”

That determination might not be made until well into the winter, depending on the progress of trade talks and free agency. So while friends say Anderson would prefer to stay in Anaheim, he might be faced with a deadline to accept a deal from another team before the Angels are ready to offer him a job.

Anderson has always been one of my favorite ball players. In his 14 seasons, the three-time All Star has put up consistent numbers, been a solid fielder, and helped the Angeles win a ring in 2002. On top of that, he was never involved in any of the steroid discussion and has never been anything but an agreeable team player with a desire to win. His loyalty to his team is unmatched in professional baseball. These days, players rarely remain on one team for their entire career. Other than Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, I can’t think of any others off the top of my head. Even when Garrett was really hot from 2000-03, he refused to jump ship after being offered better contracts from other organizations.

Unfortunately, I doubt the Angeles will sign him as a free agent. Chone Figgins may move into the outfield to make room for Brandon Wood at third base. That leaves outfielders Juan Rivera, Gary Matthews Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, and Garrett Anderson contending for a position. Since the Angeles are reportedly in the hunt for Matt Holiday, Anderson’s chances don’t look good, even with Guerrero in the DH spot.

Fact is, Anderson is not a $14 million a year player, at least not anymore. At his age, he’s no Manny Ramirez, but he can still hit for 15 home runs and 80 RBIs a year. I think he’ll stay in the American League, signing for about $9-10million with a team looking for a solid bat.

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Top 10 Active MLB Singles Leaders

In baseball circles, guys who hit way more singles than they do extra-base hits are called “banjo” or “Punch and Judy” hitters. Well, that’s mostly sluggers talking, and who are those guys to complain when they come to bat with more teammates on base? Anyway, you won’t notice anyone calling anyone on this list a wimpy hitter—not when they have this many singles. This is a Top 10 of active players in that category, and there are some potential Hall of Famers to be sure:

1. Omar Vizquel, San Francisco Giants (2068)—In addition to being one of the game’s greatest defensive shortstops of all-time, Omar Vizquel is a damn good hitter. That’s a fact that everyone tends to forget. But in 20 seasons, Omar is hitting .272 and in addition to all of these hits, has stolen 384 bases.

2 Derek Jeter, New York Yankees (1844)—A prototypical #2 hitter, Jeter is an absolute pest to opposing pitchers. And he’s a really tough out in the playoffs, though it looks like the guy will be watching the entire postseason from his couch for the first time ever.

3 Ivan Rodriguez, New York Yankees (1734)—I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but Pudge looks a lot leaner these days than he did a few seasons ago. Regardless, you can’t chemically enhance bat speed, and to hit this many singles you just have to be a talented hitter.

4. Gary Sheffield, Detroit Tigers (1630)—For a guy closing in on 500 home runs, you just wouldn’t really expect to find him on this list. But there it is—another guy who just makes contact. In fact, Sheff has never struck out more than 83 times in a season over his 21-year career.

5. Johnny Damon, New York Yankees (1570)—What? Another Yankee? Just goes to show the Steinbrenners don’t shell out the big bucks solely for home runs.

6. Luis Gonzalez, Florida Marlins (1570)—In addition to all of those base hits, Gonzalez has 596 doubles, 68 triples, 353 homers and 1436 runs batted in. Whether or not he’s a Hall of Famer is borderline, but Gonzo is surely in the conversation.

7. Garrett Anderson, Los Angeles Angels (1550)—Okay, so I read recently where Mark Teixeira, after being traded from the Braves to the Angels, said that he grew up watching Anderson play for the Angels. It amazed me that Anderson has been playing since 1994, and all with the Angels. And he’s been one of the best under the radar players in the game that whole time.

8 Ken Griffey, Chicago White Sox (1521)—Griffey has 609 home runs and 1144 extra base hits in all, but a guy has to mix in a few singles, too. The Hall of Fame waits.

9 Edgar Renteria, Detroit Tigers (1519)—Renteria is still only 32, and has over 2000 hits. Here’s another guy who just quietly produces, every single (no pun intended) year. Well, most every year.

10. Jason Kendall, Milwaukee Brewers (1504)—And this guy is only 34? That’s 104 in catcher years, but Kendall stays in great shape and still hits the crap out of the ball. He’s lost most of his power stroke, but still has a lifetime .294 batting average.

Source: Baseball Reference

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