White Sox

Desire to prove critics wrong has fueled Tim Anderson's defensive improvement

Desire to prove critics wrong has fueled Tim Anderson's defensive improvement

Those persistent questions about Tim Anderson’s defense that followed him everywhere in the minor leagues have slowed down considerably.

The loud voices attached to those inquiries have begun to tail off, too.

Three months into his rookie season, the White Sox shortstop has made a strong first impression, especially when it comes to a glove that many observers thought might eventually force a position change. Driven by a desire to be the best at his position and silence his critics, the talented first-year player has worked tirelessly to improve his defense. The results of those efforts aren’t only pleasing to the White Sox, they have even begun to sway the opinions of his detractors.

“When I saw him in the Fall League I didn’t see it,” a longtime National League scout said Wednesday. “I thought he would be a center fielder. He has made tremendous strides.

“He’s got great range and a strong arm. He’s hitting for average. He could be a perennial All-Star.”

Nobody quite knew what to expect from Anderson, 23, when the White Sox promoted him to the majors on June 10. The skillset of the 2013 first-round draft pick has never been in question.

Anderson’s speed is exceptional, his bat control is superb and his arm is strong. Those “raw tools” helped Anderson enter the season ranked anywhere from the No. 19 to No. 47 prospect in baseball, according to several publications.

But the questions continued, even as Anderson made progress at every step along the way in the minors. Anderson continues to answer them with some of his best work coming in the majors. Through Wednesday, Anderson is 10th among shortstops with 7 Defensive Runs Saved, according to Fangraphs.com. He also boasts an Ultimate Zone Rating of 4.5, which is 12th.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

White Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing marvels at the speed with which Anderson has learned.

The two worked together each of the past two springs and every day since Anderson’s promotion. Much of Anderson’s progress is in how quickly he has picked up the speed of the game, ie: knowing how much time he has to get to a ball and then how long until he must get rid of it. He believes Anderson’s blend of talent along with his with his drive and motivation will help him continue to improve.

“The adjustments he’s made in such a quick period of time,” McEwing said. “You see him getting better every day. He’s got what you call “it.” He wants to be the best. He’ll never show it, but he gets frustrated when he struggles.

“He’s an extremely quiet kid. But he wants to be the best and he wants to beat you every single night. He’s got all the ingredients to be a very good player, if not great player, for a long period of time.”

Adding knowledge to those ingredients has only improved the process. Anderson has played 16 games against the Detroit Tigers this season and therefore has already learned the tendencies of their hitters. He relied upon that information to make two spectacular plays in Tuesday’s game, though the one he made against J.D. Martinez still resulted in an infield single. But twice, Anderson positioned himself correctly and was able to track down a ball far in the hole, which took a hit away from Miguel Cabrera.

“His range has expanded and you’re starting to understand hitters and you’re seeing hitters and that’s part of his development,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “His recall of seeing guys over and over again and how guys are pitching and where he’s playing, he understands that a little bit better as he goes around the league. You’re just starting to see a guy improve with the knowledge he’s getting.”

Anderson agrees that the familiarity with opposing hitters has helped. But he also freely admits that the drive to answer his critics has fueled him, too. As long as the questions exist, Anderson plans to answer them.

“I kind of know where to play them,” Anderson said. “I kind of know their swings just like J.D., that ball yesterday, he kind of goes over the head of the third baseman a lot or in that hole.

“I’ve been very comfortable out there doing work and working hard at it. Once again, the word has been that I couldn’t play shortstop.

“So it’s still working and trying to prove them wrong.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

In Part 2 of "Ask Us Anything" we answer the following questions: Who will be the biggest free agent the White Sox sign this off-season? What are the chances they trade Avi Garcia before the deadline? What's your assessment so far of Luis Robert?  Who's on your all-time busted prospect list? Is Omar Vizquel the next White Sox manager? Would the 1994 White Sox have won the World Series if there wasn't a strike?  What's the long term plan at third base? These questions and many more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

If you missed Part 1 of 'Ask Us Anything', you can listen to the full episode here 

Listen to the full Part 2 of 'Ask Us Anything' at this link or in the embedded player below: 

 

White Sox catching prospect mentioned in some elite company

White Sox catching prospect mentioned in some elite company

White Sox catching prospect Zack Collins is being talked about in some elite company after a recent accomplishment.

Collins participated in the Southern League Home Run Derby in Double-A earlier this evening for the Birmingham Barons, and he secured his first career home run derby win.

Now, this is cool, thanks to NBC Sports Chicago’s stats guru Chris Kamka: Dating way back to 1895, Babe Ruth was born on Feb. 6, 1895. Collins was born on the same day as Ruth, but 100 years later.

It’s still way too early to make any sort of comparisons, but it’s a fun way to connect the two.

Collins so far this season is hitting .267 with 9 HR, 33 RBI’s and 59 BB in 62 games. Those walks lead the Southern League. The next highest is 39.

Collins is hitting much better than he did when he was with Single-A Winston-Salem last season. Collins hit a mere .233 in 101 games.

Think about this too. Rick Hahn mentioned several White Sox prospects will get promotions in the coming days. Could this mean Collins will get his opportunity? We’ll just have to wait and see.