Its very rare when a player in fantasy baseball can make the SLEEPER list twice in two years but that’s just the case when it comes to Oakland A’s SP Brett Anderson. Right before the 2010 season, Anderson was everyone’s favorite fantasy baseball pitching sleeper and he no doubt was drafted with the expectation of near ace-like stats all year long. Well things didn’t go according to plan however as Anderson’s season was interrupted twice by elbow issues that required DL stints and he wound up only throwing 112 innings. Despite the setbacks, Anderson actually pitched very well in those 112 innings to the tune of a 7-6 record with a 2.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 75 K.s Once again we got to see a glimpse of what a potentially ace type starter could be and so Anderson for the second season in a row is appearing on sleeper lists as a result. Due to last season’s injuries and the fact he is no longer considered the NOW guy, his price will be much cheaper in 2011 and so Brett Anderson certainly qualifies as a sleeper who can easily outproduce his draft spot. Lets see whats in store for Anderson this season.
As far as Anderson and his game is concerned, there is a ton to like about the southpaw. His biggest asset no doubt is the uncanny control he has at such a young age as he will turn only 23 this season and so he will always be a WHIP boost as a result. Guys that don’t beat themselves with the walk have a huge advantage going in and so Anderson right off the bat is ahead of the game when it comes to his starts. On top of the control, Anderson also has sneaky strikeout stuff which he showcased the second half of the 2010 season with 86 K’s in 88 innings pitched. He is not a power arm by any means but Anderson has stuff that drafts all around and induces a bunch of swings and misses. Think of someone like a Chris Carpenter as a good comparison here. So it wouldn’t be a shock to see Anderson get up to the 170 strikeout level if he can maintain good health. When you combine those K’s with the very good WHIP, things are looking really good.
Whats also very impressive about Anderson is the fact he has a very impressive 3.57 ERA through 287 major league innings which is incredible at such a young age. Oftentimes it takes a guy until his age 25 or 26 season to look as comfortable as Anderson has and so things can only get better from here. In fact Anderson’s stuff is so good that an ERA in the high 2.00 range would not be surprising.
Now despite all the good points in Anderson’s game, there is the big issue of his health which was horrible last season. Having to go on the DL twice because of elbow problems is a huge red flag that could rear its ugly head again at a moments notice. There is talk that Anderson’s delivery is the problem and that it causes tons of stress on the joint which could lead to further complications. It could be likely that Anderson experiences a setback again this season if he doesn’t smooth it out. No doubt having a starter make trips to the DL is more than frustrating and so you have to ask yourself how much risk are you willing to take here.
All in all, I still believe Brett Anderson makes a very good fantasy baseball sleeper for this season. The talent is way to tantalizing to ignore despite the injury red flags. Now by all means I am not saying to go out and reach way too high for him. The injury risk makes that a bad move but going a round or two earlier would be all right if its toward the end of the single digit numbered rounds. The ceiling is extremely high here so the payoff should be substantial here.
2011 PROJECTION: 14-7 3.35 ERA 159 K 1.17 WHIP