Leslie Anderson, A Waste of Time

By Robbie Knopf

After Leslie Anderson signed with the Rays, he was expected to soon make a major league impact. Instead, Anderson hasn’t played a single major league game and even if he does make the big leagues, he will never be a starting player. What started as a relatively high profile signing turned into a complete waste of time.

Leslie Anderson defected from Cuba in September 2009 coming off an outstanding season in the Cuban National League, posting a .381/.490/.572 line. He tried out for several major league teams in February of 2010. A few months later, the Rays signed Anderson, 28, to a contract that guaranteed him 1.75 million dollars, including a $500,000 signing bonus, and could have netted him as much as 3.75 million dollars thanks to bonuses based on big league playing time. For a Rays franchise that has gone for more under-the-radar players than high-profile guys in the international market, the move was completely out of character. This is what Rays Director of International Operations Carlos Alonso said about Anderson:

"“Anderson is the consummate professional hitter. We were also attracted to him because of his athleticism.”"

The Rays started Anderson off at High-A Charlotte to begin his pro career, and his performance was nothing special in 21 games as he posted a .262/.303/.405 line with 3 doubles, 3 homers, and 11 RBI. Nevertheless, the Rays called Anderson up to Double-A Montgomery, and there he finally started hitting, posting a .304/.382/.475 line with 11 doubles, 6 homers, and 25 RBI in 48 games. Anderson then moved up to Triple-A Durham, where he hit .328 with a .418 SLG, 5 doubles, 2 homers, and 13 RBI in 30 games, but he was not called up to the big leagues because his OBP was just .359, barely above his batting average, and he struck out 20 times compared to 5 walks. Anderson spent all of 2011 back at Durham, and his problems were identical to the ones he had in his time at Durham in 2010. He hit .277 with 24 doubles, 13 homers, 65 RBI, and a .413 SLG in 121 games, but his OBP was just .314. He struck out 60 times compared to just 21 walks.

Thus far in 2012, Anderson has fought hard to be more patient, drawing 4 walks in his first 11 games for Durham compared to just 5 strikeouts. His overall numbers have been impressive have been impressive as well as he has posted a .465/.500/.558 line with 4 doubles and 5 RBI. His BAbip, though, is a crazy .419 compared to the .300 league average despite a league average line drive percentage. Even if Anderson has really improved his patience and become a better player, he’s already 30 years old and absolute best-case scenario is Anderson turning into a 25th man in the major leagues as a corner backup. Anderson may be an annoying hitter to strike out and a good defender, but he will never be anything special at all. For a Rays team that loves going for upside, Anderson has none. Leslie Anderson was a waste of nearly 2 million dollars for the Rays.