Anderson no Aaron, but for now he'll give it a ride Home run leader says he's not a true slugger


June 27, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A magazine's editors recently asked the Orioles' Brady Anderson to participate in a round-table discussion. They wanted Anderson to get together with all-time home run leader Hank Aaron and noted Detroit Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder and talk about home runs.

Anderson declined, laughing at the idea. "They'd ask Hank Aaron about home runs," Anderson said, "and then they'd say, 'Brady, what do you think?' "

He laughed again. In his own mind, Anderson is a guy who swings hard and tries to drive the ball. But in the same class as Aaron? Please.

Anderson will be getting more requests like that, though, if he remains among the major-league leaders in home runs. He has 26 and is on a pace to hit 57, 10 more than Aaron's personal best in a single season.

Nonetheless, Anderson doesn't expect to hold his lead.

"Those other guys are guys who just hit homers," Anderson said, "whereas I'm the type who has the ability to hit homers, but I'm not necessarily a home run hitter. . . .

"I'm not being negative, but with what I'm doing right now, it'd be cool to stay with those other guys awhile."

Anderson said he thinks the Athletics' Mark McGwire, who has 24 despite missing 18 games in April because of heel trouble, will win the AL home run title. Anderson talked about some of the contenders: McGwire: "All he needs to do to hit 50 homers is get 500 at-bats. All he needs to do is stay healthy. The only thing that stops him is his heel problem."

Frank Thomas, White Sox: "He's a little different type of home run hitter. He doesn't have a home run swing, he has a line drive swing, but because he's so strong, his line drives turn into home runs."

Albert Belle, Indians: "He's so strong, but he's so disciplined, too. He probably doesn't get as much credit as he deserves for being a student of hitting."

Mo Vaughn, Red Sox: "He's another guy who's unbelievably strong. He stands right on top of the plate and doesn't budge. He strikes out some, but he hits for such a high average, which means he's getting a high percentage of hits when he puts the ball in play."

Jose Canseco, Red Sox: "To me, he has the hardest swing in the big leagues. Some great hitters have quick bats -- Rafael [Palmeiro] has a really quick bat. But Canseco looks like he's going to pull a rib when he swings."

Ken Griffey, Mariners: He's out with a broken wrist, but Anderson says that even after missing substantial time on the disabled list, "he'll be up there. Give him two or three weeks, and he'll be right there. He's got the nicest swing of any of the others."

Greg Vaughn, Brewers: "He's always had a lot of power. He's the type who's not as consistent as Belle, Thomas or Griffey, but when he's swinging right, he has as much power as anybody."

Jay Buhner, Mariners: "When I'm in the outfield, he looks like he's going to hit a homer every time up. His best power is to right and right-center."

Anderson paused, after hearing the roll call of sluggers, one after another, his competition for the home run title.

"C'mon man," Anderson said, grinning, "stop psyching me out."

Pub Date: 6/27/96

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