White Sox

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Tim Anderson prove himself the shortstop of the future?

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USA TODAY

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Tim Anderson prove himself the shortstop of the future?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

Tim Anderson has the full support of the White Sox and seems like a new man after a trying 2017 campaign.

But there are still plenty of questions surrounding him heading into 2018, putting him in the company of a lot of his teammates who are also embarking on "prove it" seasons on the South Side.

Is Anderson the shortstop of the future? For now, the obvious answer is yes, as the White Sox have seemingly placed their chips on the 24-year-old, who is signed through the 2022 season. Anderson will get every opportunity to show that he's the everyday answer up the middle for years to come.

But with highly touted prospects penciled in at seemingly every other position on the field, can Anderson keep up and meet the high expectations as the wave of talent reaches the big league level?

It's easy to forget that Anderson hasn't been a big leaguer very long. He's yet to play in 250 major league games. But his first full season — and more specifically the numbers he produced during it — have left some fans to wonder if an upgrade will eventually be needed at shortstop.

Anderson committed 28 errors in the field, the most in the majors by a pretty wide margin, and he slashed just .257/.276/.402, walking only 13 times compared to 162 strikeouts. His .679 OPS ranked 135th out of 144 qualified major league hitters.

That's not to say there weren't positive signs. Anderson made just six errors over the season's final two and a half months. And at the plate, he had a strong finish, slashing .323/.338/.474 with three homers, nine doubles, 13 RBIs and 23 runs scored in his last 32 games.

But in 2018, Anderson will have to prove which version is the real him: the one from the season's first few months or the one from the last couple?

Obviously the off-the-field circumstances that made their way onto the field had a lot to do with things. Anderson admitted that the emotional effects of the death of his best friend impacted his play. And that, of course, is understandable. He's seemed much different in interviews this offseason and during spring training. He said during SoxFest that "to get away from baseball was definitely the best thing to happen" and it allowed him to get to "a better place."

What kind of impact that will have remains to be seen. Anderson doesn't have to worry about one of these young guys coming for his job, as there isn't a highly ranked shortstop in the White Sox loaded farm system. But fans have been coveting Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado for years, and he's moved to shortstop for the 2018 season. He's set to be one of the headlining members of next winter's monster free-agent class.

So just like so many of his teammates — Matt Davidson, Nicky Delmonico, Carson Fulmer, Yolmer Sanchez and even Avisail Garcia — Anderson will have to spend the 2018 campaign (he'll get a little longer than that and longer than any of those guys, you would figure) to prove that he is a member, and in his case a starring member, of the White Sox promising future.

A deeper look at why Yoan Moncada is off to a hot start this season

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A deeper look at why Yoan Moncada is off to a hot start this season

Yoan Moncada continued his hot start to the season with a leadoff home run in Detroit on Friday.

He finished with two hits and a bases-loaded walk in a 7-3 White Sox win.

Moncada’s base numbers are all up this season. He is hitting .325 with a 1.002 OPS and a team-leading six home runs. Beyond that, a deeper look at the numbers show why Moncada’s production is up.

Moncada didn’t show much, if any, improvement in 2018 from 2017. Most of his numbers across the board were similar or slightly worse.

Moncada was patient at the plate, but maybe too patient in his first two seasons with the White Sox. He led the majors with 217 strikeouts last season and 85 of those were strikeouts looking. So far this season, Moncada is yet to strikeout looking.

This season, Moncada is swinging at more pitches both in the strike zone and overall, which is leading to a lower strikeout rate. A look at the advanced stats from FanGraphs shows Moncada swung at 63.9 percent of pitches in the zone in both 2017 and 2018 (these numbers are before Friday's game). That number is up to 69.1 percent this season. On top of that, Moncada is making more contact on those swings on pitches in the zone (up to 86.5 percent this season after 77.5 percent in 2017 and 79.8 percent in 2018).

His strikeout rate (32 percent in 2017, 33.4 percent in 2018) is way down at 24.1 percent. Strikeouts were the biggest red flag for Moncada last year. By being more aggressive this season, Moncada has been able to cut way down on that number.

His power has gone way up as well. He already has 12 extra base hits (in 82 plate appearances) and his home run on Friday was an absolute bomb. Moncada took it deep for 458 feet. That’s the longest White Sox home run of the season and is tied for the eighth longest home run in the majors this season.


He later showed that despite being more aggressive, he still has that plate discipline that was such a big part of what made him a coveted prospect in the first place. He drew a five-pitch bases loaded walk in which he did not swing the bat.

No matter how it's happening, Moncada’s turnaround has been one of the most important things in the young White Sox season.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk Harrelson proud of Jason Benetti for "jumping all over Joe West's ass"

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk Harrelson proud of Jason Benetti for "jumping all over Joe West's ass"

Chuck Garfien speaks with Hawk Harrelson about Tim Anderson's bat flip and Joe West kicking Anderson out of the game (3:40), Anderson taking his game to a new level (08:50), the passing of legendary sportscaster Chet Coppock (14:30), Hawk praises Jason Benetti for criticizing Joe West on the air (17:35), how Harrelson is adapting to not calling baseball games (19:50), why he teared up watching Tiger Woods win the Masters (23:40) and more.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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