The last in a series of profiles on past Reading Phillies greats.
At 31, Marlon Anderson can be accurately described as a second baseman that doesn’t stick into starting roles.
After signing David Bell in the 2002 offseason, the Phillies moved Placido Polanco to second and Anderson’s days were numbered in Philadelphia. He played the entire next season as the everyday second baseman for the lowly Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and has since become a role player for the St. Louis Cardinals and currently the New York Mets.
Reading, 1996-97: Anderson was part of the Scott Rolen era that had the Phils’ brass giddy about the future of the infield. Where Rolen was being compared to Mike Schmidt for his savvy fielding, there were concerns about Anderson’s glove, but plenty to like about his bat and speed.
Coming into 1996, he was ranked as the Phils third-best prospect according to Baseball America. He was promoted from Clearwater to Reading in June and was quickly named Eastern League player of the week after batting .448 during a stretch in late July. He went on to lead all Phillies’ minor leaguers in hits (156) and stolen bases (43), batting .273 between Clearwater and Reading. After the season, he was selected to the USA Today All-Prospect Team along with Rolen.
Anderson returned to Reading in 1997 for a full season of work, leading the league in at-bats (553) and ranking fourth in stolen bases (27).
Scranton, 1998: The next season proved to be his best in the minors, winning the Paul Owens Award for best player in the Phillies minor league system, leading the Red Barons in most offensive categories and setting a personal best in homers with 16.
Today: If there’s such a thing as a streaky fielder, it's Anderson. During the 1997 season in Reading, he committed 29 errors, but had a streak of 34 consecutive errorless games between May and July. That kind of inconsistency has haunted him his entire career.
His arm limits his ability to play any other position but second, and his bat has steadily sagged into a liability since 2001, when he set a career-high .298 BA and 11 HRs with the Phils.
This season, he's found success primarily as a pinch hitter, batting .378 (17-45) in PH opportunities with New York.