07/14/2003 5:52 PM ET
Anderson now an All-Star starter
Angels left fielder replaces injured Ramirez
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- True aficionados realize that Garret Anderson is one of baseball's premier players. Everybody else still has a lot of learning to do.
But perhaps the 74th All-Star Game will provide some lessons.
Anderson has replaced Manny Ramirez, the injured Boston Red Sox slugger, in the American League's starting lineup for Tuesday night's Midsummer Classic. Anderson, one of three Anaheim Angels representatives, will bat fifth and play left field.
Consistent with his professional approach, however, Anderson isn't feverishly grasping at this chance to gain recognition.
Well on his way to his fourth consecutive 100-RBI season -- he currently ranks third in the AL with 78 RBIs -- he's comfortable with his status as one of the game's top run producers. His career batting average of .299 legitimizes his credentials as a hitter. With 22 homers, his career high of 35 in 2000 in within his sights, reminding observers of his above-average power. And that World Series ring he earned last year with the Angels gives him the label of a winner.
Starting in the All-Star Game blends nicely with these credentials. It certainly doesn't dwarf them.
"It's probably more like another notch on the belt, so to speak," said Anderson, who's making his second All-Star appearance. "You know what I mean? I wasn't voted in, and I keep that in perspective. Somebody got hurt and I'm stepping in because I was asked to play left field."
Anderson's consistency has been numbing, as reflected by the narrow yet impressive range of batting averages he has posted since 1996 -- between .285 and 306. That partly explains his lack of wonder at the recognition he's beginning to accumulate.
"In this game, you're measured by your statistics," Anderson said. "It's just the history of putting the statistics up. I think that's what opened a lot of eyes. Because I haven't changed anything or done anything different."
He has done quite a lot this year: On June 4, he hit a career-high three home runs against Montreal. Less than a month earlier, on May 8, he amassed a personal-best seven RBIs against Cleveland.
Still, it's obvious that Anderson hasn't exactly burst into prominence. Though he finished a credible fifth in the fan balloting for AL outfielders, he finished more than a half-million votes behind New York's Hideki Matsui (1,301,118-827,741), who placed third and claimed the final starting spot.
A noteworthy performance at U.S. Cellular Field could heighten Anderson's profile. As he said, "It's amazing what can happen when you're given the opportunity to get here."
Anderson was referring to Angels teammate Brendan Donnelly, who endured a 10-year odyssey through the minor leagues before reaching the Major Leagues last year. But he easily could have been talking about himself.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.