During his prime years, Garret Anderson was one of the first battleground players in the war between traditional statistics and sabermetrics. In 2000 and 2001, for example, Anderson wowed traditionalists by belting around 30 homers and knocking in 120 RBIs, but more advanced metrics like WAR and OPS+ valued the Angels’ outfielder at just a notch above average. This contradiction often made Anderson both the most overrated and underrated player in the game…at the very same time.
Another contradiction was Angels’ fans inability to warm up to Anderson in the same way as other home grown talents like Troy Percival, Tim Salmon, and Darin Erstad. Although some fans likely interpreted Anderson’s “casual” approach and quiet demeanor as a lack of passion, he was by all accounts a focused performer and dedicated teammate. As with his statistical performance, perception sometimes trumps reality.
I think the perception of Garret within the media and with fans is totally different than what Garret was really about. Garret was one of the most focused (players) and had one of the greatest wills to achieve. It didn’t manifest itself outwardly in the same way it did with David Eckstein or in Darin Erstad or an Adam Kennedy. But make no mistake about it, his focus and his passion for the game and how hard he worked every day was second to none.” – Mike Scioscia, quoted in The Orange Country Register, March 1, 2011
Regardless of how one interprets Anderson’s career, it’s impossible to ignore that he was an important part of the franchise’s most successful years. And, in the process, he established himself atop the team’s leader board in many offensive categories, including runs, RBIs and hits. In honor of the latter achievement, each franchise’s career hits leader is presented in the graphic below (click to enlarge).
It’s interesting to note that although the 3,000 hit club currently has 27 members, only 13 players have topped that total with one team (Derek Jeter should make it 14 some time in 2011). Also, only one franchise has had two players amass 3,000 hits while wearing its uniform (the Tigers with Ty Cobb and Al Kaline). Looking from the other end, eight franchises have failed to have a player tally 2,000 hits, including the Mets, whose all-time hits leader (Ed Kranepool) ranks near the bottom of the list, barely ahead of two recent expansion teams.
Early on in the 2011 season, this list will become obsolete when Ichiro takes over as the Mariners’ all-time hits leader (he is only three behind Edgar Martinez). Everyone else, however, should be safe for at least one more year (David Wright and Hanley Ramirez should both take over as the hit leader of their respective teams by the end of 2012, assuming they aren’t traded first). Finally, one reprieve was granted when the Blue Jays traded Vernon Wells to the Angels. The center fielder had climbed to within 54 hits of Tony Fernandez’ perch, but will now have to start all over by chasing Garret Anderson.