|THE BUNT WAS OFF IN '96.|
|BETTER HITTING THROUGH CHEMISTRY OR HARD WORK?|
DEFINING THE PLAYER
- It's certainly among mankind's greatest mysteries, up there with the Bermuda Triangle, the Turin Shroud and Steve Buscemi's teeth: Brady Anderson hitting 50 homers in 1996. The 32-year-old leadoff man never had hit more than 21. He averaged 16 homers from '92-'95 and 20 from '97-'00. PEDs? Never linked. Tried 'em for one year and quit? Maybe, but why, considering he was entering the final year of his contract in '97? A weird outlier season, like Hack Wilson's 56/191 '30 season and Davey Johnson's 43-homer '73 season? Perhaps. What's known for certain: Anderson was an extraordinarily athletic outfielder, offensive catalyst and three-time All-Star during a 15-year career.
- Entering the final game of the '96 season on Sept. 29 with 49 homers, Anderson led off with No. 50 against the Blue Jays' Pat Hentgen. He became the 14th player to reach that plateau and second that season after #92 Mark McGwire. Anderson broke Frank Robinson's team record. Chris Davis topped both this season with 53.
- In '96, in addition to all those homers, Anderson was hit by a pitch a league-leading 22 times, drove in 110 runs, scored 117 times and hit .297 with a .396 on-base percentage. Along with his steady defense in center, it added up to a 6.9 WAR. He's the only player to hit 50 homers and steal 20-plus bases in the same season.
FIVE FINAL FACTS
- The Orioles acquired Anderson and #10 Curt Schilling from the Red Sox in '88 for Mike Boddicker in a deadline deal.
- Became a full-time starter in '92, hitting 21 homers, driving in 80 with 53 steals. He and #103 Barry Bonds are the only players in history to have a 50-HR and 50-steal seasons.
- Set the AL record for consecutive steals with 34 in '95 before it was broken later in the year by #183 Tim Raines of the White Sox.
- On Sept. 5, 1995, on the night #96 Cal Ripken tied Lou Gehrig's mark of playing in his 2,130th consecutive game, Anderson hit two home runs in an 8-0 victory over the Angels.
- Promoted to the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations this year.