Vocal Arraez, reserved Anderson forming valuable one-two punch for the Miami Marlins

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Luis Arraez had waited weeks for a moment like Wednesday to arrive.

Tim Anderson, the Miami Marlins’ reserved, All-Star, one-time batting champion shortstop, had been his typical quiet, laid-back self for the early portion of spring training after signing a one-year deal with the team on Feb. 24. He was taking his time to get his feet under him, putting in extra work in the batting cage and taking groundballs early in the morning to put his hopeful bounceback season in full motion.

Arraez the Marlins’ boisterous, All-Star, two-time batting champion second baseman knew it was a matter of time before Anderson broke out of his shell.

That day was Wednesday.

“He talked a lot today,” Arraez said that day, “so I was excited.”

For the Marlins to be successful in 2024, Arraez and Anderson are going to have to become a formidable one-two punch in more ways than one. They will be the middle infield of a defense that will need to be productive behind a talented yet unproven pitching staff. They will also set the table at the top of a lineup the Marlins are hoping is deeper with Arraez and Anderson at the top, followed by a combination of Josh Bell, Jake Burger and Jazz Chisholm Jr. in the heart of the order.

Despite opposing personalities externally, a yin and yang of sorts, both are equally driven internally to carry a Marlins team yearning to prove it can build on an unexpected trip to the playoffs a season ago.

“What’s better than one head? Two heads,” Anderson said. “Just being able to talk to him about hitting and vice versa — we both won batting titles. There’s something in there and that’s pretty cool. We’re able to share each other’s ideas and I’ve watched him work in a cage. It’s gonna be interesting and I’m excited to see what the year brings.”

The Marlins know what they have in Arraez. He flirted with a .400 batting average for most of last season before finishing the season hitting .354 — the best batting average for a single season in Marlins history and well ahead of runner-up Ronald Acuna Jr. in the National League last season. He played steady defense at second base. He’s vocal, upbeat and a massive presence in the clubhouse.

Anderson, entering his ninth MLB season, is focusing on making his presence known by his work ethic, and it has caught the eyes of his teammates and the coaching staff.

“Tim works,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said, “and that’s kind of what gets lost in in all of this. He doesn’t just show up and and look and see if he’s in the lineup. If you go out there early at seven, eight o’clock in the morning, he’s in the cage or taking ground balls and it’s not fluff; it’s real work. Just like Luis. Having that strong middle is going to be extremely important to us.”

And if Anderson ever needed it, he’s always within earshot of a friendly source of motivation.

“If you saw Arraez play ping-pong, you how intense he is and how outgoing he is and how competitive he is,” Schumaker said. “That only helps guys right next to you, and Tim is right next to him.

Added Arraez: “He competes and he’s got energy. And if he needs energy, I can give him energy. We’ll be fine.”

Anderson has the track record to show that he can make an instant impact in Miami. He had four consecutive seasons hitting at least .300 from 2019-2022. He has 98 career home runs, 295 total extra-base hits, 338 RBI, 528 runs scored and 117 stolen bases in 895 games.

He is coming off an underperforming and injury-hampered 2023 season in which he hit just .245, hit just one home run and had a .582 on-base-plus-slugging percentage over 123 games.

Schumaker said he has been pleased with Anderson’s production so far in spring training.

“You can tell what it looks like when he’s healthy,” Schumaker said. “He’s fast twitch, and really strong. And when you have your legs, that’s what hitting is. You have to have your legs underneath you. When you don’t have them, it’s tough to hit, and he’s got them now. He feels good — he and [hitting coach John] Mabry have been working hard together. He’s buying in defensively and offensively. He’s a really good Major League player, and people maybe forgot how good he was.”

Added Marlins president of baseball operations Peter Bendix: “He’s a dynamic type of player on both sides of the ball. Really good defender, does a lot of things well, steals bases. He had a tough year last year but he’s not very far removed from being a really good player.”

As he starts the next chapter of his baseball career, Anderson is ready to show once again just how good of a player he can be.

“The transition’s been good,” Anderson said. “I’ve been comfortable. I’ve been happy. I’ve been learning and just being around the guys you know, it’s a great group here.”