January 18, 2017 is the 52nd birthday of former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson so today seemed like a good time to remember one of the most statistically improbable seasons in MLB history.
Entering the 1996 season, Brady Anderson had been a light-hitting, leadoff hitter who had only 72 home runs to his name over parts of nine seasons in the bigs. Now, at the time, 50 home runs was a big deal. This was two years before McGwire and Sosa started launching homers at record-breaking rates. Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, none of these guys ever hit 50 home runs. In fact, the feat had only been accomplished by 11 other players in the history of the game who were all known for their prodigious power.
Yet Brady Anderson — a man with a career-high of 21 home runs in 1992 — became the 12th player in history to hit 50 home runs in a season and it made no sense. Where in the hell did this power come from? Nobody really knew and Anderson didn’t know himself. Unfortunately, Anderson became a victim of the Steroid Era and unfairly became one of the faces for those who like to speculate on what steroids can do for a ballplayer. Anderson was not linked to steroids at the time nor has he been to this day. It’s pure speculation in an attempt to explain a statistical anomaly.
It should also be noted that Brady Anderson was f—— jacked.
The first two Google images that come up for him are ones without his shirt on. The speculation — it all made sense. Ridiculously ripped baseball player who just suddenly hits 50 home runs out of nowhere. He was the poster boy for what the Steroid Era was all about.
Unlike other players around that time period though, Anderson was never, ever connected to steroids in reports, testimonies, accounts by Jose Canseco, anything. Probably the most damning evidence against steroid use by Brady Anderson is that his power reverted back to “normal” in the years after. 18-24 home runs on a consistent basis. The noted steroid users were able to maintain their extraordinary power numbers for years and into their mid-to-upper 30s. I highly doubt Anderson just decided to take steroids one season, hit 50 home runs, and then stop at the peak of what was the Steroid Era.
What this likely amounts to is an outlier season, one of the most extreme that has ever been witnessed in MLB history. Brady Anderson played 15 seasons in Major League Baseball and hit nearly 25% of his 210 career home runs in one of those seasons. That’s just a ridiculous statistic and it’s what makes baseball so great because stuff like that can just happen. Naturally. For no reason at all.
So happy 52nd birthday Brady Anderson — probably not a steroid user and owner of one of the most extreme outlier seasons in MLB history (and also a pretty funky batting stance in Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball on N64, yeah I remember).