The offseason gives fans, ones like myself, time to reflect upon the season that “could have been.” For the A’s, a team that finished 81-81 in 2010, 2011 was supposed to be the year that the team contended for the AL West division crown. Instead, the team’s poor start crushed all playoff hopes early on and ultimately led to just 74 wins and a third-place finish.
Oakland closed out the season by winning their last two games, but still finished a whopping 22.0 games behind the first-place Texas Rangers. Offensive shortcomings and an array of different injuries throughout the season killed the Athletics this year. Injuries, however, shouldn’t come as any surprise to A’s fans.
The A’s have been hit hard in recent years by the injury-bug that seems to be living at the Coliseum. Oakland lost Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson for the entire season this year, and while the team got support from the likes of Brandon McCarthy and Guillermo Moscoso, losing Braden and Anderson hurt the team.
For Oakland, losing Anderson to injury yet again isn’t something the team anticipated. Anderson, 23, was signed to an extension last year, but since signing the four-year extension Anderson hasn’t remained healthy.
In 2010 the young southpaw made just 19 starts, going 7-6 with a 2.80 ERA over 112.1 innings. Anderson made just 13 starts this season, going 3-6 with a 4.00 ERA over 83.1 innings. He’s a young player with a lot of potential, but his injury history is beginning to be a cause for concern.
Anderson underwent Tommy John surgery on his left shoulder back in July. He’s expected, at the very earliest, to return sometime during the second-half of the 2012 season.
While he’s still a very young player with the potential to rebound from these injuries, Anderson’s career, in my mind, at least, is starting to mimic Rich Harden‘s career.
Harden, who started his career in Oakland before making stops in Chicago and Texas, has battled injuries for most of his career. The A’s brought back Harden this season on a one-year deal, but the A’s only got flashes of the old-Harden this season. The right-hander is regarded as one of the best pitchers in the game when he’s healthy. But this season, Harden’s numbers didn’t look that impressive.
He was 4-4 with a 5.12 ERA in 15 starts this year for Oakland. He showed flashes of dominance, but the A’s certainly didn’t have an ace on their hands this season with Harden. He was, at the very best, a mediocre pitcher in 2011.
Anderson, like Harden, is considered to have quality stuff when he’s healthy enough to make it to the mound. The injuries, however, certainly don’t help Anderson’s career. The A’s are banking on the strength of their young pitching to carry them into the future, but if guys like Anderson can’t make it to the mound, the future doesn’t look all that bright.