18 games (0 starts), 15.1 innings, 10 hits, 12 walks, 0 hit by pitch, 3 home runs, 18 strikeouts, 1.435 WHIP.
3.52 ERA, 5.73 FIP, +0.2 rWAR, -0.2 fWAR.
Status throughout the season
Anderson made the Opening Day roster, was optioned towards the end of August, called up for the final week-plus of the season, and stayed on the roster through the final game.
Anderson finished 2019 — his rookie MLB season — working in relief, after earning 16 starts earlier in the year. He wasn’t great in his bullpen role, but he finished the season with scoreless outings in seven of his final nine appearances (never mind that he gave up 6 earned runs in a combined single inning of work in the other two).
That sparked a lot of momentum for the kind of odd concept that Anderson would be the closer in 2020. I say that 100% in hindsight, because I definitely contributed to that momentum, despite being lower on Anderson than many.
Even with Will Smith, Mark Melancon, and Sam Dyson gone, and with Reyes Moronta injured, and with no big offseason additions to the bullpen, Anderson wasn’t anywhere near the role of closer when the 2020 season began.
But he was given the role of honest-to-goodness reliever, not innings-eating long reliever and spot starter. Despite his prior life as a member of a starting rotation, Anderson didn’t have a single outing that lasted longer than 1.1 innings this year.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Anderson’s season was the data he provided that the Giants development staff is able to do strong work. The jury is still out on the Giants overhauled team of coaches, and there were a lot of questions as to what would happen at the Alternate Training Site in Sacramento. Would players actually be able to grow and develop in a manner similar to what they would experience playing in the Minor Leagues?
Small sample size is, as the name indicates, small, but Anderson provided some positive evidence for both of those question marks.
He was optioned after 13 appearances, and here was his line as he drove from San Francisco to Sacramento: 10.1 innings, 8 hits, 3 home runs, 11 walks, 11 strikeouts, 6 earned runs.
After nearly four weeks at the Alternate Training Site, Anderson returned to the roster and made five appearances, with the following line: 5.0 innings, 2 hits, 0 home runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 0 earned runs.
Again, that sample size is exceptionally small, but Anderson is still relatively young (25), and very inexperienced (111.1 career innings), so there’s reason to be optimistic that taking a sizable step forwards is still possible.
There won’t be any chatter about Anderson being the closer this offseason, but that’s more a reflection of the roster than of Anderson. He ended 2020 stronger than he ended 2019, and that’s important.
Role in 2021
Anderson is under team control for many more years to come, and all signs point to him being a contributing member of the bullpen in 2021. Given his usage this year, it certainly seems like the front office and coaching staff have decided to focus on him solely as a reliever.
If another team is intrigued by Anderson’s velocity or his prior history as a starter, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him shipped off as part of a small trade. But for now, expect him to be pitching sixth and seventh innings next year.
On the whole, Anderson didn’t have a good year. But he had a very strong ending, giving the team optimism and flexibility with him. That helps.
How would you grade Shaun Anderson’s season?
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