Maybe this is all just a particularly effective bout of "daddy strength," as Rick Renteria called it.
Tim Anderson is indeed a new papa, fresh off the birth of his daughter, Paxton. But he's also looking like a new man at the plate, batting .500 just seven games into the 2019 season.
Unless baseball history is in the making, that number will come down as the campaign chugs along. But in the meantime, Anderson is hitting in a way that backs up his confident talk from the offseason, when he declared that even though he would have been happy to play alongside perennial All-Star infielder Manny Machado, "shortstop is mine."
No one's suggesting that Anderson has reached the point where he's a better player than the mighty accomplished Machado. But after getting the work he put in to transform his defense in 2018, he's getting the results at the plate in the early going this season.
"I feel real good. Been working during the offseason and spring training. It's showing a little bit. I feel real comfortable," Anderson said after Saturday's 9-2 loss to the visiting Seattle Mariners. "I feel like I'm learning and understanding the game a lot more. I feel like it's slowing down for me, a lot more. And I'm getting it."
Anderson homered late in Saturday's game, his second homer in as many days and his second homer since welcoming Paxton into the world. It was a three-hit afternoon on the South Side for Anderson, the second consecutive one of those, too. He's hit safely in all five games he's played in, and three of those have been multi-hit efforts. And for a guy who struck out a combined 428 times over his first three major league seasons, having just two of them through five games in 2019 ain't half bad, either.
"He's made some good adjustments from last year," starting pitcher Lucas Giolito said of Anderson, "and yeah he's seeing pitches well, squaring balls up. Two homers the last two days. That's the Tim Anderson people have been waiting to see. He's really showing that."
It's perhaps not enough to make fans forget that the team wasn't able to land Machado this winter, but combine Anderson's successes with those of new third baseman Yoan Moncada (who went hitless for the first time in 2019 with an 0-for-5 line Saturday) and you've got the two brightest spots on the White Sox roster coming from the left side of the infield, where Machado would have played.
It's an additional positive that those two guys are long-term pieces of the White Sox ongoing rebuilding effort. General manager Rick Hahn said Friday before the home opener that who powers the team during the 2019 season will be perhaps more important than how many wins it ends up with. Meaning that positive performances from Anderson and Moncada and other long-term pieces will be a very good thing for the present and future of this franchise.
"Is (a positive win-loss record) because Moncada took that step forward," Hahn said, "and Eloy (Jimenez) made an impact, and Giolito and (Reynaldo) Lopez and Tim Anderson and (Carlos) Rodon and whoever else comes up this year help guide us to that victory total based on their performance and their development? Or is it more on the backs of veteran-type guys: Ivan Nova and (Welington) Castillo and older players doing their job and doing a nice job and as a result we won more than we did?
"Those two paths put us in a very different position at the end of the 2019 season. Ideally it's contributions from everybody, young and old, we win more than we lose and it's a great summer and it's also one that puts us in a position, entering 2020, feeling very good about how this young core is coming together and what we're capable of doing over the next couple of seasons."
It's only a handful of games, but the questions that popped up during the offseason and entering this season about what kind of long-term impact Anderson and Moncada could make are being answered, to a degree, in the early going.
Anderson seemed a little irked that fans and observers were so easily willing to hand his job to Machado. "I came too far for these fans to kind of just want me to give it to Machado," he said in January. Now, he's looking to prove them they were wrong, that maybe they should have put up more of a fight.
"I've been proving people wrong for a while," Anderson said Saturday. "I'll keep trying to do that and keep being me."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.