Anderson is a wild one, and I'm not referring to the long locks pouring out from the back of his baseball cap. In 2020, his first full season (well, "full" season) as a reliever, he issued 12 walks over 15 ⅓ innings, a 7.0 BB/9 average.
Obviously it's a ridiculously small sample size, and it doesn't necessarily jibe with his previous track record – he had a 3.6 BB/9 rate in 96 innings as a rookie in 2019, and a 2.3 BB/9 rate in the minors – but the wildness was fully on display last summer and it led to some rather heated moments.
In mid-August, the Angels and Giants faced off in back-to-back series at their respective ballparks. On Tuesday night, Anderson entered in the ninth inning with an 8-1 lead. The leadoff man? Mike Trout.
Facing the greatest player in the game, Anderson uncorked a pair of mid-90s fastballs that sailed near Trout's head. This one was the second, and it caused a bit of stir, later resulting in Giants manager Gabe Kapler feeling the need to explain afterward: "We don't throw at people. It's not who we are."
In fairness, the wayward heaters from Anderson did look like pretty clear misfires, and there's not much reason to think he'd be head-hunting a Hall of Famer in his second MLB season.
Two days later however, in San Francisco, Anderson faced Trout once again. And once again... drama unfolded:
This up-and-in fastball from Anderson wasn't quite as close to Trout's helmet, but after what transpired two days earlier, Angels manager Joe Maddon had seen enough. He confronted the umps on the field and later had some harsh words about the Giants reliever.
"Enough is enough," Maddon said. "This is the major leagues. There's a level of accountability here also. I don't wanna use the word 'irresponsible' loosely, but in that situation, you pretty much knew it was gonna happen again. And I'm not accusing the guy of doing anything on purpose; I'm just saying he doesn't command his fastball enough in order to know where it's going."
Quite the review of Anderson from Maddon there! And it speaks to the main challenge faced by the Twins as they look to work their magic once again. The slider is pretty clearly an overpowering weapon (he threw it 53% of the time last year and held opponents to a .108/.164/.243 with it in a limited sample) but it's not clear he can succeed as a one-trick pony a la Matt Wisler. The fastball has some potential, buzzing in at 94.4 MPH on average and ranking in the 92nd percentile for spin, but Anderson and the Twins are going to need to find a way to rein it in.
Luckily, they can be patient. Although Anderson's no spring chicken at age 26, he does have options remaining so the Twins can develop in him in the minors or shuttle him back and forth across 35W as needed.
There's something to be unlocked here, and when it comes to this pitcher profile, no team in the majors has proven more adept at turning the key than Minnesota. They've also shown they can help such pitchers succeed in spite of a wild side; Wisler averaged 5.0 BB/9 last year and still posted a 1.07 ERA.
In other words, while Shaun Anderson might not be the most glitzy addition, Twins fans should know better by now than to discount it.
Maybe keep him out in the pen when the Angels are in town this year, though.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums