St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training Countdown: Five Days


We are down to five days until pitchers and catchers report to St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training, and day six of my exploration.

Before I leave the infield I want to look at one other player who will appear at spring training but who will likely begin the 2016 campaign with Memphis: Dean Anna.

Mar 2, 2015; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Dean Anna (65) during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2015; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Dean Anna (65) during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

I’m not the first Redbird Rants writer to examine Anna.  Steve Ungrey wrote about Anna getting extra work with the Memphis Redbirds to learn utility positions around the infield.  This was for the 2015 season and I can completely see this happening still in 2016.

What would equally not surprise me would be his utility expanding beyond the infield in 2016.  I mention this to note that I’m not entirely certain who will start in Memphis’ outfield since Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty (likely along with Tommy Pham) will start with the big club.  For a  look into Grichuk or Piscotty, go check out Dan Buffa’s recent article.  I’ll get back to Anna’s likely appearance in the Memphis outfield later.

29 year old Anna was signed in 2008 and made his MLB debut in 2014 at shortstop for the NY Yankees.  After years within the Yankees organization, Dean was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates in July, 2014.  His tenure with Pittsburgh lasted until the close of the 2014 season when he elected free agency.  Anna sat in free agency only eight days until the St. Louis Cardinals signed him for the 2015 season.

2015 provided many bounces back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis– three to be exact.  Much of his 2015 movement came less from performance and more from a need to solidify the bench backups due to injury.

Speaking of performance, in his career, Anna has posted 2,488 minor league at-bats providing a .277 batting average.  In these at-bats, he has hit 144 doubles, 45 home runs, and posted 313 RBI.  He holds a .786 minor league career OPS.  In short, he isn’t wow material but isn’t one to be discounted either.

Offensively in his major league exposure (a total of 13 games for 23 at-bats; take note of the small sample size), Anna has posted a miserable .130 batting average with a snoozing .497 OPS.  These stats clearly show why he hasn’t found much leverage into the bigs… yet.

Defensively, in the minors, Anna has appeared at first base (4 games), second base (362 games), shortstop (232 games), third base (53 games), and in the outfield playing all three positions (157 games).  Second base seems his most natural position where he has posted a .983 fielding percentage.  In close second is his playing time in left field (a .971 fielding percentage).

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The statistics above are what lead me to believe that we will likely see Anna expand his utility performance into the outfield.  To add fuel to this, his right field career minor league fielding percentage is .946 and when he has played multiple outfield positions in a single game he has posted a .960 fielding percentage.

Thinking of the outfield logjam in St. Louis, I do not see playing time in Memphis’ outfield as a path to ascension but rather as a way of increasing his value to the team overall.

Defensively in the majors, Anna has appeared at short stop for nine games, second base for three games, and pitcher- yes, pitcher- for one game.  Defensively at short stop in the majors, Anna has posted a .947 fielding percentage.

At second base, he posted a 1.000 fielding percentage.  These are miserably small sample sizes and I therefore do not feel comfortable making judgement statements from them.  But who doesn’t love when a position player climbs the mound?!

With all these back-and-forth statements about his statistics, why would I be excited about Dean Anna?  While there hasn’t been a great deal of praise heaped on Anna, I think this is an injustice to the player that Anna is.  Having said that, however, it must be noted that super utility players usually aren’t the ones to receive copious amounts of praise.

I, for one, like super utility players.  I loved Scott Spiezio and with all the hoopla around Ben Zobrist it isn’t hard to see the value one of these adds to a club.  With that in mind, Anna needs to spend the 2016 season raising the value of this stock for himself and for the Redbirds.

Next: St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training Countdown: Six Days

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