Yeah, Tim Anderson's got a lot of errors. But he's also making plays like this.
Anderson does have a ton of errors, 20 of them, to be precise, a total greater than any player in baseball. He's committed at least 20 errors in each of his last three seasons, and in four major league seasons he's got 82 of them.
None of that should cancel out the great defensive improvement we saw from Anderson over the course of last season. Just because he's making a lot of errors doesn't mean he's not a good fielder, as the frequent eye-popping defensive plays he makes should illustrate.
The outside focus on Anderson this season has been on almost everything besides the defense: the offense, the attitude, the high ankle sprain, the evolution into one of this young team's leaders. All that's deserved, of course. That injured-list stay has him just outside of qualified status, and if he had it he'd own one of the highest batting averages in the American League. But defense remains a high priority for Anderson, who said he practices plays like the one from Friday night all the time.
"That's stuff I practice on," he said Saturday. "I go out before the game and I practice on those things, and I think it's starting to show now. And people are watching."
"He’s really, really good because he gets to balls most people won’t and then he completes a play like that," manager Rick Renteria said. "He’s been doing that quite a bit now for over two years. You really tip your cap to him and Joe (McEwing, White Sox infield coach), who has been steadfast working with him. For Timmy to take it upon himself to want to be the best at what he does, he continues to work very, very hard and play like that. It’s becoming a staple play like that for him in the hole."
It's true, we've seen that play an awful lot from Anderson this season, even if he was particularly and ridiculously deep Friday night.
According to Renteria, Anderson's range might be one of the reasons he's accumulated more errors than most.
"Anybody that can get to more balls than most people and have more chances (racks up more errors)," Renteria said. "Some of those plays, they are able to extend themselves to make those plays and they are not necessarily in the best position possible. But they are still capable of, with body control, trying to execute some plays.
"I think overall the more balls you can get to, the more chances you have, there’s a great chance of increasing errors — especially at shortstop, where he covers a lot of ground."
Those who watch Anderson on a nightly basis know that his error total doesn't define him as a defender at shortstop. They know he makes a ton of plays that few other shortstops make. But there will be those who scan the statistics at the end of the season and see all those errors and jump to their own conclusions.
That error total, whatever it ends up being, doesn't need to come with an asterisk. But maybe a link to some of the highlight-reel plays would be helpful.
Anderson's season deserves all the praise it's received for his offensive breakout, his excitement-generating bat flips and his rise as one of the young leaders in a group primed for such a bright future.
But remember the defense. It's a big part of what makes him a core player for this White Sox team.