Wednesday, October 24, 2012

#234 Larry Andersen - Seattle Mariners

Larry Andersen pitched in the big leagues as early as 1975 but this is just his 3rd Topps card.  Brute and French's Mustard's received some free advertising in the background.  For some reason this card looks much brighter here than in person.  Maybe it's the hot pink and yellow border, but even the green grass and Anderson's uniform seem to glow.

Player: Larry Andersen was drafted by the Indians in 1971, but pitched just 36.2 innings spread across three seasons for the Tribe.  He debuted in '75 and had two more brief stays in Cleveland in '77 and '79.  Andersen was traded after the '79 season to the Pirates.  The Pirates had a solid and deep bullpen and and the 27 year-old Andersen spent the whole year at Portland with a 1.74 ERA in 93 innings.
As the 1981 season was about to start, Andersen was sent to Seattle to complete an earlier trade.  He stayed in the majors the entire year and pitched effectively out of the pen.  He saved five games and posted a 2.66 ERA.  The next year was a different story as the Mariners re-tooled their pen and used Andersen in long relief.  He experimented with a submarine delivery for a while to reduce the stress on his arm before returning to his sidearm / three-quarter arm slot.  He allowed 100 hits and 16 homers in 79.2 frames with a 5.99 ERA.  Used in low leverage situations, his 79.2 innings are still the most by a pitcher with no wins or losses. 
Andersen was sold to the Phillies and he spent the first half of the '83 season at AAA.  Called up in late July, he provided 26.1 innings of middle relief work with a 2.39 ERA for the division winning Phillies.  He did not pitch in the NLCS but appeared in two World Series contests, allowing one run in four innings.  He pitched effectively in '84 with a 2.38 ERA in 90 innings but regressed to 4.32 to in '85. 
After a poor start to the '86 season, Philadelphia let Andersen go and he signed with Houston.  He really found his niche as a set-up man with the Astros. After finishing '86 strong (2.78 ERA) he posted ERA's of 3.45, 2.98, and 1.54 while logging over 80 innings each year.  
In 1990 Andersen was zipping along with a sub-2 ERA when he was traded to the Red Sox for some prospect named Jeff Bagwell.  While Andersen helped the BoSox win the division, he took the loss in Game 1 of the ALCS when he allowed two runs in relief of Roger Clemens. 
Andersen spent the next two years with the Padres and was very good when healthy, saving a career best 13 games in '91.  He returned to Philadelphia after the '93 season and the 40 year-old helped them to the World Series.  During the regular season, Andersen sported a nifty 2.92 ERA but he was hammered for nine runs in six postseason innings.   
He fought injuries and declining skills in '94 as his 4.41 ERA suggests and he retired after the season.
Stuff:  Slider, sinker.  The older Anderson got the more he relied on his slider. 
Flipside:  The 1 in the GS column indicates the only game that Andersen started in the majors.  It didn't go well.  He allowed 9 hits and 4 runs in 4.2 innings and left the game tied at 4.

Oddball:  Andersen is quite a character and is known for his off-beat humor while working the airwaves on Phillies radio.  Here is more on Andersen's quirkiness.

History:  Anderson had a long career and seemed to improve with age.  His ERA and ERA+ by age group through his career:
20s: 4.65 / 89
30-34: 3.20 / 117
35+: 2.48 / 149
Andersen was able to pitch in the postseason four times but never won a World Series ring.  He was the only Phillie to play in both the '83 and '93 Series.  His career stats include a 40-39 record with 49 saves. 

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1 comment:

  1. The Seattle Mariners, just another of the many teams that adopted Powder-Blue uniforms in the 1980's...