Orioles A-Z: Brady Anderson


Note: Orioles A-Z is a recurring series in which I profile a past player in the Orioles organization that had an impact on the team, whether it be good or bad. It is done alphabetically by last name. I’m going to be talking about the player’s background, how he got to the team, what he did while they were on the team, how he left, and what he’s doing now.

I actually started this months ago but only made it through A and B so since it’s the off-season and there’s a lot more time with a lot less going on, I’m restarting it. The first article starts at A with Brady Anderson. Enjoy!

Brady Anderson

Anderson was born close to Baltimore on January 18th, 1964 in Silver Spring, Maryland but was raised in Carlsbad, California. He went to UC Irvine to study economics and play for the Anteaters where he was either at first base or in the outfield.

He left college after his junior year after being drafted in the 10th round of the 1985 draft by the Boston Red Sox.
With excellent batting stats, Brady rose through all three levels of Boston’s farm system rapidly and was in the big leagues by April of 1988. His stint with the Red Sox was short lived, as he was traded, along with Curt Schilling, to the Orioles for 1983 ALCS MVP Mike Boddicker, who I’ll profile next week! He hit his first major league home run on August 6th off of the Brewers’ Tom Filer at Memorial Stadium.

Read all about his Orioles career after the jump.

Orioles Career: 1988-2001
In his first full season in the major leagues (1992), Anderson took off in the lead-off role. He played in all but three games; yes, that’s 159 games! He also led both leagues in plate appearances with 749 and made his first All-Star Game. By the end of the season, he became the first player in American League history to reach 20 home runs, 50 steals and 75 RBIs in a season. With those stats, he became a member of the 20/50 club, which is when a player hits 20 home runs and steals 50 bases in the same season (there are only 11 players to have done this). As these stats are impressive enough, he also finished 15th in American League MVP voting all in his second year in the league. Despite missing 15 games in 1993 due to plaguing injuries, Anderson led all AL lead-off hitters in extra base hits (56) and RBIs (62). He also led the Orioles in 8 offensive categories including runs scored (87), stolen bases (24), walks (82), triples (8), and extra base hits (57). He also came in at 4th highest in the American League with batting average with the bases loaded at .571.

Though the 1994 season was cut short 2 months with the players strike, Anderson still had an impact. He led all AL left fielders with a 1.000 fielding percentage. Also, his 31 stolen bases in 32 attempts was a major league record for 25 or more steals.

Anderson continued to improve as he accomplished some great things in the ’95 season. On June 12, 1995 Brady set the American League record for most consecutive stolen bases at 34. His streak ended on July 3rd at 36 stolen bases when he got caught by Matt Walbeck, the Minnesota Twins catcher at the time. The record was passed later that year by Tim Raines but it’s still an impressive feat. He also proved to be almost impossible to get to ground into a double play as he only hit into 3 DPs on the year. That’s a DP every 184.7 at-bats. Another interesting feat, he hit 2 home runs on September 5, 1995, which was the night Cal Ripken, Jr. tied Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record of 2,130.

1996 was easily his best season of his career. He hit 50 home runs, the 50th coming at his first at-bat of the last game of the ’96 season. His 50-homer season also broke Frank Robinson’s record for most home runs in a season by an Oriole. During this season, he became the only player in MLB history to become a member of the 50/20 and 20/50 clubs. The 50/20 club is when a player hits 50 HRs and has 20 stolen bases in a single season (there are 4 players who have done this). The 20/50 club I discussed above. Brady Anderson is the only player to have done both. He also achieved the record for most HRs hit consecutively to lead off a game with 4. So, in 4 straight games he hit a lead-off home run. The previous record was 2 consecutive lead-off HRs, done 33 times. He came in as the 3rd best defensive outfielder while hitting 37 doubles and 5 triples. He also led the AL with 92 extra base hits and broke the Orioles club record previously held by Cal Ripken, Jr.

In 1997, he played a big part on the team despite playing most of the season with a broken rib. He led the O’s to an extremely close AL East title with a 98-64 record. He made his 3rd All-Star Game appearance where he played the entire game in the lead-off spot and went 2 for 4 with a double off P Curt Schilling. That season, he led the Orioles in 13 offensive categories: batting average (.288), on-base percentage (.393), OPS (.862), plate appearances (696), runs scored (97), hits (170), doubles (39), triples (7), walks (84), stolen bases (18), and extra base hits (64). He also led the league for a 2nd straight time with 19 hit by pitches. In 4 post-season appearances (Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees in 1996, Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners in 1997), Brady had 80 at-bats, 16 runs scored, 4 doubles, 6 home runs, a .300 batting average, a .380 on-base percentage, and a .575 slugging percentage.

1998 was a down season due to injuries but he still hit 18 home runs and had 51 RBIs as well as 21 stolen bases. He only hit .236 but scored 84 runs. But, he bounced back in 1999. He led AL lead-off hitters with a .408 on-base percentage and reached base 279 times, 9th most in the league. For the season, Anderson batted .282 with 28 doubles, 5 triples, 24 home runs, 109 runs scored, 81 runs batted in, 36 stolen bases, 96 walks, and 24 hit by pitch. He became the only lead-off hitter in history with three 75 RBI seasons under his belt. On May 23, Anderson became the first player in American League history to be hit by a pitch twice in the same inning. At the end of the season, Baseball America rated him as the best lead-off hitter in the AL. In the 2000 and 2001 seasons, his numbers were on the decline. He hit a combined 26 home runs, 95 RBIs, stole 28 bases, and had a .343 on-base percentage.

Post-Orioles Career: 2002

After playing with a different team for one season before his Orioles career, he ended his baseball-playing days with one season on a different team, this time the Cleveland Indians. He didn’t do much for them playing only 34 games and finishing with a .163 batting average, a .327 on-base percentage, 4 runs scored, 4 doubles, no triples, 1 home run, 5 RBIs, 4 stolen bases, and 18 walks.

Post-Baseball Life:
Anderson ranks among the top 10 in Orioles career batting leaders for games (1759), at-bats (6,271), runs (1,044), total bases (2,698), hits (1,614), doubles (329), triples (64), home runs (209), RBI (744), extra base hits (602), stolen bases (307), and walks (927). He holds the single-season records for total bases (369 in 1996), home runs (50 in 1996), extra base hits (92 in 1996), and hit by pitch (24 in 1999).

As of 2008, Anderson is one of only two players to have stolen 50 or more bases in a season (53 in 1992) and hit 50 or more home runs in a season (50 in 1996). Barry Bonds is the other player when he stole 52 bases in 1990 and hit 73 home runs in 2001.

Anderson was not able to come close to having another 50 HR season; however, from 1992–2000, Brady averaged 21 home runs, 6 triples, 31 doubles, 96 runs scored, 70 RBI, 27 stolen bases, a .376 on-base average, a .462 slugging average, and 14 hit by pitch per year as a lead-off hitter, despite one season shortened two months by a player strike (1994) and another shortened one month by owner lockout (1995).

On August 21, 2004, Anderson was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame and was introduced by Cal Ripken, Jr who called him “the best lead-off hitter in Orioles baseball and the best athlete I have ever played with.” In 2007, when Cal Ripken, Jr was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, (which, by the way, I went to his HOF induction) he called Brady Anderson “simply my best friend.” In ’06, Anderson became a co-owner of the ABA’s Hollywood Fame. He also served as Chairman of the ABA Sports and Entertainment Advisory Committee. He is currently a spring training hitting instructor with the Orioles and also works with players in L.A. over the winter privately. One of his students is Mark Reynolds, who he actually began working with when he was still with the Arizona Diamondbacks.