Nick Anderson who has an avg ADP of 140 and the 54th overall pitcher off the board according to fantasy pros, will be the #1 RP in 2020.
The day is March 28, 2019. A 32nd round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, this 28-year old is FINALLY after 6 years of putting up above-average numbers in the minor leagues, getting the call to the Big Leagues. His club at the time, the Miami Marlins, gave him a short debut as he retired the only hitter he would face (Ryan McMahon of the Colorado Rockies).
Fast forward to July 31st and Anderson had appeared in 45 games and had collected a whopping 69 strikeouts in under 44 IP! This caught the attention of the pitching savvy Tampa Bay Rays and on that day acquired Trevor Richards alongside Anderson in exchange for touted prospect Jesus Sanchez and Ryne Stanek. The Marlins thought they were selling high, not so fast. After the trade, Anderson for the rest of the 2019 season registered a 2.11 ERA with 41 strikeouts in just over 21 IP.
The metrics point out to this being no fluke. Anderson finished the year 5th among all players with at least 50 innings in zone swing and miss % and in zone contact percentage, 14th in zone percentage, and whiff %, 8th in swing %. This tells me this guy is fooling guys in the zone and doesn’t need to worry about nibbling or chasing. This is also evident by his above-average 6.8% walk rate that he’s not issuing many free passes. His xBA is .197 which was top 7% in the league and his strikeout rate was 41%! That’s insane. He went from averaging 14.2 K per 9 with the Marlins to 17.3 K per 9 once he came to the Rays. That’s not a misprint.
He does this by throwing his curve a lot. He throws his curve approximately at 40% and it brings with it an astronomical 55% whiff rate! I love guys with a great rising fastball (reaches 98) and 12-6 curve (83-85) mix and man does he. Once he was with the Rays even his walk numbers dwindled from 3.3 to 0.8 per 9.
How about a comparison? To whom you may ask? How about arguably the best RP in baseball right now: Josh Hader. According to Fansided, these were Anderson’s numbers compared to Hader’s last season with a minimum of 60 IP.
- BB%: Hader (6.9%) / Anderson (6.1%)
- BB/9: Hader (2.4) / Anderson (2.5)
- K%: Hader (47.8%) / Anderson (41.7%)
- K/9: Hader (16.4) / Anderson (15.2)
- HR/9: Hader (1.8) / Anderson (1.1)
- xFIP: Hader (2.36) / Anderson (2.44)
There were only 3 guys in ALL of the baseball last season that struck out over 40% of the batters they faced and Nick Anderson was one of them. In other words, Anderson was Hader-esque.
When it comes to the Rays, they know how to get the most from their pitching. Even though they shuffled closers around last season, this shortened season is different. Every game matters in a 60-70 game season. You can’t afford to play around with matchups and overthink. You need to put your best arms out there in the most important moments. I believe for a team like the Rays that will compete, this will be THEIR guy at the backend of their bullpen this season.
He may not even always be the guy in for the saves but as like the Brewers do with Hader, Tampa Bay may call upon Anderson to record 4-6 outs in the ladder part of the game with the best hitters the other team has due up. All in all, Anderson will have plenty of innings, plenty of strikeouts, and most importantly plenty of saves and holds. I’ve even gone to the trouble of creating his hashtag #NastyNick. Unless he significantly regresses, this will be the guy you’re talking about next year as drafting as the first RP off the board.