Shortstop Tim Anderson doesn’t mince words when talking about how good he wants to be.
And how good he can be.
What you see now from Anderson, 24, is not what you’re going to get next year and beyond, he says. He has raised a high bar and believes the ceiling is far from being reached.
“It’s way up there,” Anderson said. “I’m not even close, not even close. I still do things that I can’t even believe. I feel like I got a high ceiling. I’ll keep working and bust through.”
The White Sox want this to happen, and they want it bad. They view Anderson and second baseman Yoan Moncada, 22, as their long-term middle infielders, smack dab in the middle of their rebuild. The development of the keystone combo in 2018 is arguably the most important thing going on position-player-wise for the Sox.
For Anderson, his development has been a mixed bag. On the plus side, he has seven home runs, 11 stolen bases and already a career-high 15 walks. On the minus side, he was hitting .156 in his previous 19 games and had only three steals in his previous 29 games before the Sox beat the Orioles 11-1 Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Manager Rick Renteria gave him a full day off Tuesday for the first time this season.
“To reset,” said Anderson, who has a .232/.296/.396 slash line and went 1-for-3 in the rout of the Orioles with an RBI, two runs scored and a walk.
The most concerning thing about Anderson’s game in 2017, his first full season in the majors, was a major-league-high 28 errors. But he committed only six errors in his last 65 games last season and, according to defensive metrics, is playing better in 2018.
“I wasn’t aware of the numbers,” Anderson said. “I try not to get too wrapped up in reading about what’s being said, I just get into my work — and I’m learning.”
After ranking 30th among all shortstops in defensive wins above replacement in 2017, Anderson is 11th.
“He gets to a lot of balls, but I think he’s completing a lot more balls, he’s coming through balls a little bit better,” Renteria said.
“Coming forward on the ball, he’s really good. And his first step off a batted ball is pretty quick. So as he continues to see more and more ground balls, more and more action, with all the adjustments in the defense with the shifts and things of that nature, you start to get an understanding more and more of that.”
Anderson said his backhand, once his weakness, is improving because of hard work.
“I’m using it in the game now, so that’s a big deal,” he said. “And it’s going to get better.”
If it’s said that Anderson’s overall game has gotten better, the Sox will rest more comfortably about having a premium position covered. Renteria says Anderson is right about that high ceiling.
“I agree with him,” Renteria said. “He’s not at the top of what we expect and hope he will ultimately become as a major-league shortstop in all facets of his game. He continues to improve. From the first year I was here, seeing him when he first came up, and then last year and this year, we’ve seen a lot of gains in the field, on the bases, offensively. I know he’s been in a little bit more of a slowing trend right now with the offense. But, in general, he’s gaining a lot more knowledge in playing baseball at the major-league level.”