We know that Rays announcer Brian Anderson was an MLB pitcher. We also know nothing about it. He never specifically quotes any experiences from his playing days. Let’s take a look back at BA’s MLB career.
Anderson, a 6’1″, 190 left-handed pitcher, was the 3rd overall pick by the California Angels in the 2003 MLB Draft out of Wright State University. After just 4 minor league stats, Anderson made his MLB debut in September of ’93, posting a 3.97 ERA in 3 relief appearances and a start. In 1994, Anderson was a member of the Angels’ rotation but it didn’t go very well as he went 7-5 but with a 5.22 ERA, a 4.2 K/9, a 2.4 BB/9, and a 1.2 HR/9 in 18 starts and 101.2 IP. After posting a 5.87 ERA in 99.2 IP with the Angels in 1995, the Angels traded Anderson to the Indians for Jason Grimsley and Pep Harris.
The Indians finally gave Anderson some significant time in the minor leagues. He appeared in 18 major league games, 17 starts, from 1996-1997, and he went 7-3 with a 4.80 ERA. Anderson also made 6 relief appearances in ’97 playoffs in the ALCS and World Series, posting a 1.80 ERA with 9 strikeouts and 3 walks in 10 innings. He got the win in Game 6 of the ALCS and tossed a perfect third of an inning in the 8th inning of Game 7 of the World Series. Nevertheless, following the 1997 season, the Indians didn’t protect Anderson from the expansion draft and he was selected by (not the Rays but) the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With the D-backs, Anderson finally establish himself as a big league pitcher. In 1998, the D-backs’ opening season in the big leagues, Anderson went 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA, a 4.1 K/9, a league-best 1.0 BB/9, and a 1.7 HR/9 in 32 starts, including 2 complete games and a shutout, and 208 IP. He followed it up with an 8-2 but a 4.57 ERA in 1999, posting a a 5.2 K/9, a 1.9 BB/9, and a 1.2 HR/9 in 19 starts, 12 relief appearances, and 130 IP. He managed to have 2 complete games, a shutout, and a save in the same season. In a playoff start against the New York Mets, Anderson tossed 7 innings allowed just 2 runs, striking out 4 while walking none but getting a no-decision.
In 2000, Anderson put together a nice season at age 28, going 11-7 with a 4.05 ERA, a 4.4 K/9, a 1.6 BB/9,
and a 1.6 HR/9 in 32 starts, a relief appearance, and 213.1 IP. In 2001, though, Anderson dealt with back and groin injuries as he struggled through the regular season. He went just 4-9 with a 5.20 ERA, a 3.7 K/9, a 2.0 BB/9, and a 1.7 HR/9 in 22 starts, 7 relief appearances, and 133.1 IP. But in the playoffs, Anderson stepped up again. Between the NLDS and NLCS, Anderson posted a 2.45 ERA with 3 strikeouts and just 1 walk in 3 relief appearances and 7.1 IP. Then in the World Series, Anderson got the Game 3 start and allowed just 2 runs in 5.1 innings but got the loss in a 2-1 Yankee win. That season, he got his only ring when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in 7 games.
In 2002, his last year before free agency, Anderson came through with a solid season, going 6-11 with a 4.79 ERA for Arizona with a 4.7 K/9, a 1.8 BB/9, and a 1.3 HR/9 in 24 starts, 11 relief appearances, and 156 IP. After the season he re-signed with the Indians. Back with Cleveland in 2003, Anderson pitched as well as he ever had, going 9-10 with a 3.71 ERA, a 4.4 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, and a 1.3 HR/9 in 24 starts, a relief appearance, and 148 IP before getting traded to the Kansas City Royals for the stretch run. Anderson did what he could to assist with the Royals’ improbable run that fell short, going 5-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 7 starts. The Royals would up finishing 83-79, their only winning season since 1993.
Anderson struggled for Kansas City in 2004, going just 6-12 with a 5.64 ERA, a 3.8 K/9, a 2.9 BB/9, and a 1.8 HR/9 in 26 starts, 9 relief appearances, and 166 IP. Then Anderson went just 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 6 starts for the Royals in 2005 before suffering an elbow injury. Anderson was forced to undergo Tommy John Surgery. Anderson signed with the Rangers in 2006, but he re-aggravated the injury and needed a second Tommy John Surgery. Anderson spent 2007 as host of the Cleveland Indians’ pregame show.
But in 2008, Anderson gave baseball one more shot, signing a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. Anderson’s comeback attempt lasted just 1 spring training inning in which he allowed 3 runs. The Rays kept waiting for Anderson hoping he could get healthy. It never happened. Anderson instead joined the Rays as a special assistant to the pitching coach and filled in as color analyst on the Rays’ TV broadcast for 10 games. Anderson gradually filled in more and more as Rays color analyst until finally being hired as the Rays’ full-time color man in 2011. Rays fans have enjoyed his analysis ever since.
Brian Anderson went 82-83 for his major league career with a 4.74 ERA. He was never a great pitcher. He was never a hard thrower like most pitchers picked in the top 5 picks of the draft. But he did everything he could to help his teams, both in starting and relief roles. And he was at his best in the postseason, going 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 2 starts, 9 relief appearances, and 29.2 IP as he helped the Diamondbacks win the World Series and brought the Indians within a game of doing the same. Anderson was always a vibrant, charismatic personality who was unbelievable in the clubhouse of his teams and always kind to fans. But he also had the determination to persevere through whatever struggles confronted him. Don’t just enjoy Brian Anderson the announcer. Remember fondly Brian Anderson the 13-year MLB pitcher.