Shortstop Tim Anderson a dual offensive threat for White Sox
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In Tim Anderson’s view, Derek Jeter set the standard for shortstops. For his game, his style, the way he conducted himself on and off the field, winning championships, the whole shebang.
“He is in a class by himself,’’ Anderson said.
The 25-year-old shortstop knows he is not Derek Jeter, but he is in a class of his own with 13 home runs and 27 stolen bases, and not only among shortstops, but all players in baseball.
In his second full season, Anderson is the poster child for power and speed as the only player in the majors with 13-plus long balls and 20 or more stolen bases. He stole 15 bases last year but has already blown past that figure before the All-Star break, and he’s four homers shy of 17, his 2017 total.
For the Sox, that’s a nice package of production from the shortstop position.
“It’s good, it’s a positive,’’ Anderson said. “I try not to think too much about it, and the best thing I can do is continue to play. Anything to boost the confidence and keep me going is great. Hopefully, I can keep it going and get those numbers a little higher.’’
Anderson’s Baseball Reference power/speed number of 16.1 ranks fifth in the American League behind Jose Ramirez (22.3), Mookie Betts (18.5), Mike Trout (17.9) and Francisco Lindor (16.2). At his current rate, Anderson, who had two RBI in the Sox’ 4-0 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday, will finish the season with 23 homers and 37 stolen bases. That would tie him with Juan Uribe (2004) for the sixth-highest home-run total by a Sox shortstop and the most stolen bases since Luis Aparicio swiped 53 in 1961.
He feels primed to finish what he started.
“My body feels good, the legs feel good and my mind is good,’’ Anderson said. “Everything feels good, so I can’t complain.’’
While those keeping close tabs have no complaints about Anderson’s offense — he is batting .247/.305/.419 with 37 RBI and is walking more this year — his defense continues to warrant monitoring. He has 13 errors this season — still too many — but one in the last 15 games and three since May 30.
“I’ve been working at it, man,’’ Anderson said. “Me and Joe [bench coach McEwing], he works me hard, and I definitely take pride in my work. You can see it coming in the games. As I keep working, I can see it. My backhand was my weakness, but it’s coming, it’s something I feel better about now. I have to keep after it and trust the process.’’
Anderson wears his emotions on his sleeve, and one scout who has watched him since he was in the minors would like to see him keep those emotions in check.
“I have always liked him and still think he’s a five-tool athlete, but he loses his focus on the field when he doesn’t have a good at-bat, gets called out and he takes his bat on the field with him,’’ the scout said. “The ball is hit to him, and he loses some of his instincts. He has to be all business and keep his focus.’’
Sox coaches have preached that to Anderson and 23-year-old second baseman Yoan Moncada.
“As I keep getting older and maturing as a player, I’ll learn a lot, and it will come,’’ Anderson said.
A lot has come already. Anderson ranks 13th among major-league shortstops in Baseball Reference wins above replacement, maybe not the stuff All-Stars are made of but close enough to the top to know it’s not an impossible dream.
“I’m grateful to be part of that class, but All-Star is definitely on my radar,’’ he said. “It’s a goal of mine. I hope I get there one day.’’
How to make it happen?
“Just keep growing as a player,’’ Anderson said. “Keep working hard and everything will fall into place.’’