Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining Tyler Anderson’s Early Season Success


Lefty Tyler Anderson has been an extremely consistent and effective pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the gates in 2021

This offseason the Pittsburgh Pirates took a low-risk one-year flyer on left-handed starting pitcher Tyler Anderson. So far, the deal has looked like an absolute steal for the Bucs. Anderson has been the team’s most consistent starting pitcher, going at least 5 innings without giving up more than 3 runs. So let’s take a look at what he’s done to make him so successful this year.

Anderson’s bottom line consists of a 3.38 ERA, 3.49 FIP and 1.23 WHIP through 26.2 innings of work. The southpaw has a very solid 7.3% walk rate and 23.6% strikeout rate. His 3.25 K/BB ratio is well above the league average of 2.8. He’s also been solid at limiting home runs with a 1.01 HR/9 rate. Anderson has some solid ERA estimators to go with his solid bottom line numbers After yesterday’s game, Anderson has a 3.60 xFIP, 3.90 SIERA and 4.04 DRA.

One thing that has helped Anderson be so effective is his above average batted ball rates. Currently, the lefty ranks in the top 66th percentile in exit velocity and top 53rd percentile in hard hit rate. Opponents only have an 87.6 MPH exit velo and 38.2% hard hit rate off of him.

Not only is he getting weaker contact, but he’s also inducing many more ground balls compared to the few years prior to his tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Between 2018 and 2020, Anderson had a ground ball rate of just 35.1%. So far this season he has a ground ball rate of 41.3%.

Another big factor to consider is his chase rate. Currently, he sits with a 33.2% rate. That is a career high for the lefty, out-doing his 31.6% whiff rate from his 2016 rookie campaign. All of his offerings have also been effective or better offerings.

His cutter has been extremely effective. Currently, it sits with a -3 run value and -2 run value per 100 offerings. It’s just the second time he’s ever had an above average run value for his cutter. However, the one time it was an above average offering, it had a run value/100 pitches of just -0.5.

His sinker and changeup also have an above average run value of -1.7-per-100, and -1.3-per-100. So far, the only pitch he has thrown more than 10 times this season with a below average run value is his four seam fastball. But it’s very close to average at +0.2. Opponents only have a 33.3% hard hit rate vs his four seamer, the lowest among his four offerings and it’s in the top 90th percentile of spin rate with 2448 RPM.

Now granted, Anderson still has a below average xwOBA of .354 compared to his actual mark of .300. Overall, he doesn’t have the greatest of expected stats. His xSLG is the best ranking in the bottom 37th percentile.

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Still, Anderson’s 0.5 fWAR so far puts him on pace for 3.0 fWAR across a 160 inning season. That’s his current pace as well for innings in a 30 start season. Not only has he arguably been the Pittsburgh Pirates best starter, he’s been extremely consistent. He’s the team’s only starter to go at least 5 innings and give up 3 or less runs in each of those starts.