If you follow Sabermetrics, look up the leaders among American League shortstops in WAR(Wins Above Replacement). There in the Top Ten you will find the following names:
5. Didi Gregorius 2.5
6. Manny Machado 2.5
7. Tim Anderson 2.1
8. Xander Bogaerts 2.0
Surprised to see the guy ranked No. 7?
At the end of last year, it looked like this:
11. Jose Iglesias 1.4
12. Tim Beckham 1.3
13. Marcus Semien 1.1
14. Chad Pinder 1.0
15. Tim Anderson 0.9
At a time when the White Sox are feeling the pain of their rebuild, watching how Tim Anderson has developed this year should provide you some relief about the future.
Is he finished product? No
Does he make a lot of errors and strikeout too much? Yes and yes.
But speaking with him before Friday’s game against the Royals, Anderson sounded like a player who is walking around with a baseball compass. He knows exactly where he’s at and what he needs to do to arrive at his hopeful destination: greatness.
“What I’m doing this year is a small sample of what’s going to come,” Anderson said. “I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ve got to continue to work and get better on offense and defense. I feel like that’s working for me. I take my work seriously and I know I’ve got to get better, and I feel like I am getting better.”
What does Anderson want to improve on?
“Everything. Everything. I want to be great, so I’ve got to improve on everything, offense and defense.”
I bring up his 23 walks which are already 10 more than his previous career-high.
Anderson claps his hands.
“I’m proud about that. I didn’t really walk much (last year). I got in the box and was just ready to go. But now I’m being patient and I’m learning.”
What about his 13 errors which are the second most among shortstops in the American League? Anderson didn’t hide.
“We got to get those down,” Anderson said. “I’m in a good position where I am now compared to where I was last year, but I’ve got a lot of work to do. Obviously the errors are showing that it tells me I got to keep working. I’m going to clean it up.”
At a time when stolen bases are becoming extinct, Anderson’s 21 thefts are second most in the American League. He’s projected to finish with 37. Could he hit 40?
“You don’t want to put a number out there and not reach it. For the most part I’m going out there and seeing how many I can get,” Anderson said. “I feel like “I’ve been doing a great job taking the information they’re giving me and using it in the game. That’s kind of why I’m safe most of the time.”
When the White Sox are ready to win, will Anderson be their shortstop? The chances of them signing Manny Machado in the off-season are extremely slim. And, you probably don’t want Machado playing shortstop anyway. Check out his defensive metrics. It’s ugly. Really ugly.
95. Xander Bogaerts -0.7
96. Jody Mercer -0.9
97. Alcides Escobar -1.0
Last. Manny Machado -1.4
Anderson wants to be the White Sox shortstop of the future and is looking more and more like it. He’s also such a team player, he’d probably play the outfield if the White Sox ever asked him. He even has a pretty good sense or humor about it.
The White Sox rebuild might have started last season, but the team has been losing ever since he got called up in 2016. I asked him if the losses are weighing on him.
“We’re going through a tough stretch right now. We’re in a rebuild. That’s what everyone’s saying, but you got to look at the future. We’ve got a chance to do something special. That’s what keeps me going. I’m excited about that. You can only control what you can control,” Anderson said. “Right now we’re in a stretch where we haven’t been winning. But overall, the clubhouse has been great through the tough times that we’ve been going through and we’ve got some great pieces in the minor leagues that’s going to be up here soon and turn those L’s into W’s.”
Anderson sees the big picture and if the White Sox win a World Series, he wants to be in that championship photo.
“I’m here until the end. The plan is to bring a championship here and that’s what I’m here for.”