GLENDALE, Ariz. — If you like what you’ve seen from White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, don’t get too comfortable crafting your assessment.
Anderson’s abilities have no ceiling, Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing said.
There’s more in his tank.
‘‘I would never put a limit on Tim Anderson,’’ McEwing said.
After winning the American League batting title in 2019, Anderson took a run at another one in 2020 and raised his slugging percentage for the fourth consecutive season to finish seventh in voting for AL most valuable player.
Anderson, 27, hasn’t made an All-Star team yet, but he has established himself as a major-league star. Superstar? A cover on a popular video game suggests it.
Strictly on talent and performance alone? Probably. If not, he’s very close.
McEwing said it’s only a matter of time, and seeing whether Anderson can take his game to the highest level is only one of numerous intriguing things to watch on the 2021 Sox, a team loaded with talented young players such as Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada.
Anderson, however, is closer to owning face-of-the-franchise status than any of them. He has the talent, good-natured demeanor and drive to be that superstar. Fans gravitate to his swagger, his energy and, above all, his talent.
He’s fast, he hits for power and he plays shortstop, the home of the best all-around athletes in the game. So good, in fact, that Anderson ranked 10th in MLB Network’s recent rankings of the 10 best players at each position.
‘‘That’s bull---,’’ Anderson said on an NBC Sports Chicago podcast. ‘‘I’m not supposed to be 10; everybody knows that. That’s not me thinking too much of myself. Let’s be realistic. Let’s go check the numbers. Let’s go check the history. That’s a realistic fact, for me to say that. I’m better than No. 10, definitely, for sure. But that’s really not much to speak on because they’re human, too, and those are their opinions, and that’s fine.”
It figures to be another source of motivation to push a player who’s always pushing. Where that takes him can’t be measured, McEwing said.
‘‘There is no limit,’’ McEwing said. ‘‘I wouldn’t put a ceiling or a bar, and I wouldn’t compare him to anyone because I believe TA can do anything he wants on the field. He’s capable of doing everything he wants. And I love that he is a limitless player. He can continue to go and go and go.’’
No one knows the go-go in Anderson better than McEwing, who long ago lost count of the number of fungoes he has hit at him, as well as the number of talks he has had with him since he broke into the majors in 2016.
‘‘There are no limits as far as average, power, speed, defensively,’’ McEwing said. ‘‘And one of his goals is to win a Gold Glove.’’
That would be something because defense is not Anderson’s calling card — at least not yet — despite gradual improvements each season.
McEwing said that Anderson has a vision of what he wants to be and that his self-confidence is at an all-time high. If Anderson’s defense finds its way to something close to Gold Glove consideration, his MVP cred would climb.
When he was drafted in 2013, Anderson was somewhat raw for a first-rounder, having cut his athletic teeth on the basketball court. And as recently as two years ago, McEwing said, Anderson ‘‘didn’t visualize himself doing anything on the baseball field. He was just talented enough to go out and do it.
‘‘One day I asked him: ‘TA, who did you visualize yourself being on the basketball court or baseball field?’ He says: ‘Joe, I didn’t visualize myself doing anything. I just went out and did it because I was good at it. I didn’t visualize myself being Michael Jordan, Magic [Johnson], [Larry] Bird or [Ken] Griffey [Jr.]; I just went out and played. When I signed, I was going through the minor leagues saying I might be good enough at this to take care of my family.’ But he still didn’t visualize himself doing anything.’’
Now he does, and Anderson sees himself as being the best in the game.
‘‘I feel like I’m in the top five, but for me I’m No. 1,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘I’m always going to be No. 1 because that’s how I see myself. I don’t think there are any other guys out there better than me. That’s just my opinion. And it’s OK for me to have my opinion.’’
When Anderson had an All-Star-caliber first half in 2019 but didn’t make the All-Star team, he set out to win the batting title ‘‘because nobody can vote for it. I had to do it myself.’’
‘‘When that was accomplished, he said there is no limit,’’ McEwing said. ‘‘He said, ‘I physically and mentally believe there is nothing I can’t do on the field. I have inspirations. I visualize myself being an MVP, World Series champion, Gold Glove winner.’
‘‘Now he sees himself in that light, and now the world is noticing him and saying, ‘I want to be like Tim Anderson,’ and that’s pretty special. So I put no limits on him because he truly can do everything on the field that he wants to do.’’