Tim Salmon vs Garret Anderson: Salmon was the more consistent player
During our poll, one of the prevailing arguments was that Anderson was the more consistent player and was drastically underrated. While the latter may be true, the former is not.
From 1993 to 2003, Tim Salmon put up 11-consecutive seasons with a wRC+ of 104 or higher, consistently placing himself above replacement player level. Dialing deeper into that timespan, Salmon only twice went below 120 in wRC+, putting up marks of 117 in 1999 and 104 in 2001 respectfully.
Likewise, Salmon proved that being an on-base machine (as commenter Ryan Krol pointed out on the poll) had a value that would be greatly appreciated in today’s game. His weighted on-base percentage (wOBA) would dip below .350 only three times in his career, during his 23-game cup of coffee in 1992 (.258), his 2001 campaign (.335), and during his injury-shortened season of 2004 (.281).
All of this weighed heavily in his fWAR totals, where Salmon had a lifetime total of 35.4. Over his 14 years, Salmon was rated at 3.0 fWAR or higher in six seasons and only five times dipped below two wins above replacement. Only twice was Salmon rated below replacement value, again during the 1992 and 2004 campaigns.
Alternatively, Garret Anderson struggled a bit with consistency during his time with the Angels. After putting up a 117 wRC+ in his rookie season, Anderson was below league average for five consecutive seasons from 1996 to 2000. He would grade positively in the category five out of the next eight seasons in Anaheim.
Oddly enough, Anderson’s toughest years with the bat ran almost hand in hand with his best years in the field. He graded positively in DEF four of the five seasons from 1996 to 2000, and they ultimately helped to tent-pole up his fWAR during those lean years with the bat. From 1995 through his final year with the Halos, Anderson above replacement value in all but one season (2005. However, he also fell below two wins above replacement in half of his fourteen seasons with the Angels.
And if we are comparing apples to oranges, wOBA doesn’t do Anderson any favors either. While Salmon rarely fell below the .350 mark in weighted on-base percentage, Anderson only crested the mark twice and had a career mark of .334. Respectful, but not Salmon-like.