9. Brady Anderson, OF (1988-2001)
All-Star: 1992, 1996, 1997
To me, Brady Anderson was a superstar. He was a fine leadoff man, ran well, and of course, had that magical 1996 season.
Brady really hit his stride in 1992, when he became a regular. He hit .271/.373/.449 with 21 homers, 80 RBI, 53 steals and 100 runs scored. I think it was more than we really expected, as he had never shown any power before. But it wasn't flukey, because he kept up a similar level of production (though he never stole more than 36 bases in a season again) for the next three years before his explosion in '96.
Brady Anderson's 1996 is a classic fluke year. It's not that he wasn't usually a good player, because he was. But that year was so ridiculously above the norm for him that it qualifies as a huge fluke anyway. He set his career high for homers, with 50. The second-most he ever hit was 24. He had 110 RBI, second-most was 81. He slugged .637, second-best was .477. He even had one of his better defensive years.
What do you do with a fluke season like that? Darin Erstad had one, Ken Caminiti had one (we know what to chalk his up to, probably), and countless others have had them. But it was really just a one-year power spike, and outside of the homers, his numbers didn't drop off the next year. He hit .297/.396/.637 in '96, and .288/.393/.469 in '97.
Anderson was never really an average hitter, he hit .256 for his career. But he knew how to get on base, with a career .362 OBP, and he had some pop. When Brady got old, it came on in a hurry. One year, he was still hitting .257/.375/.421, and the next, he was washed up. His 2001 season was sad, as he just flailed away hopelessly for 430 at-bats. He signed with Cleveland for 2002, but only played in 34 games, and was even worse than he had been the year before.
Everyone gets old and can't do what they used to do, but Brady Anderson was a player I grew up on, so for me personally, it was a bit disheartening to watch one of my favorite players flame out.
Brady leads the modern Orioles (since 1954) in three categories: stolen bases, hit by pitch, and power/speed number. The difference between Anderson and the No. 2 ranking player in each category is large: 307 steals to Al Bumbry's 252, 148 HBPs to Melvin Mora's 71, and a 248.7 power/speed number compared to Paul Blair's 143.6.
BRADY ANDERSON, BALTIMORE ORIOLE # Rank Games Played 1759 6 At-bats 6271 4 Runs 1044 4 Hits 1614 4 Total Bases 2698 5 Doubles 329 4 Triples 64 2 Home Runs 209 6 RBI 744 6 Walks 927 2 Stolen Bases 307 1 Runs Created 965 5 Extra-Base Hits 602 4 Times on Base 2689 4 Hit By Pitch 148 1 Intentional BBs 57 7 Power/Speed # 248.7 1