OF/3B Brian Anderson, Miami
81 games, .297/.374/.416, 4 HRs
Amidst the black hole that is Marlins baseball, Anderson has emerged as a bright light in his rookie campaign. Miami’s eighth-ranked prospect last year has burst onto the scene with a 123 OPS+, and now leads all NL rookies in WAR (2.1).
Since April 30, Anderson has been even better, batting .321/.380/.458 in 54 games. But even isolating Anderson’s hot streak keeps him in Juan Soto’s rearview mirror. No rookie is even close to the Nats’ 19-year-old with the bat right now.
There are two areas where Anderson can make up ground on Soto: defense and playing time. Naturally a third baseman, Anderson has split time between the hot corner and right field this season for Miami and performed adequately in both spots.
While the Washington Nationals have to get creative with the rest of the defensive lineup to accommodate Soto, the Marlins have plenty of flexibility with Anderson.
Anderson, 25, also started the season in the big leagues and has earned over twice as many plate appearances as Soto. His counting stats – specifically in runs and RBIs – are both well ahead of Soto’s, and he holds a 0.8-advantage in WAR.
Earning an Opening Day roster spot is an accomplishment for Anderson, but his counting stats are not good enough to top Soto’s rate numbers. Soto provides more power, a better average, a premier walk rate, and similar strikeout numbers. Heck, by the end of the season, there is a decent chance Soto will catch Anderson in traditional numbers across the board; he already has more homers.
Anderson’s defensive superiority is a legitimate boon for his Rookie of the Year candidacy, but as always, Juan Soto’s bat carries the day here. It also doesn’t help that Miami is buried under irrelevance or that the Marlins’ Anderson still isn’t the most famous Brian Anderson in baseball.