White Sox’ Tim Anderson says 2019 was no fluke

Tim Anderson, who batted .335 to lead the major leagues last season, was batting .379/.414/.758 going into Friday night’s game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

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The White Sox’ Tim Anderson has a hot bat heading into this weekend’s series against the Cubs.

The White Sox’ Tim Anderson has a hot bat heading into this weekend’s series against the Cubs.

Matt Marton/AP

Woe is you who suggested Tim Anderson’s batting title in 2019 was part good hitting, part good luck.

It turns out, if the White Sox shortstop’s first 16 games are telling us anything, that batting .335 to lead the major leagues might not have been a fluke. Anderson was hitting .379/.414/.758 going into Friday night’s game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

And he’s doing it with a new hitting coach, Frank Menechino, after the Sox previous coach, Todd Steverson, was praised by Anderson himself for helping him put a .240/.281/.406 hitting line from 2018 in the rearview mirror last season.

Anderson says he’s learned so much about hitting in the last two seasons, much of it from experience. Simply put, he’s “figuring it out.”

“Just being in control, not going for [the pitcher’s] pitch and looking for mine,” Anderson said. “And just knowing exactly what he’s trying to do to me and what exactly what his ball is doing. That definitely makes it a whole lot easier to look in one spot and just being on time and then adjusting to whatever he throws.”

The adjustments during an at-bat sometimes are made with Anderson’s quick feet, inching forward or back or closer to the plate depending on the pitch he’s anticipating.

Menechino picked up where Steverson left off by asking a lot of questions, starting in spring training. He also watched Anderson when the Sox invited Menechino up from Class AAA Charlotte to be with the team in September.

“I asked him what does he do when he’s doing good,” Menechino said. “And what does he do when he’s doing bad?

“Sometimes he doesn’t really know how he’s doing it or why he’s doing it. So, I ask him a lot of questions and ask him what feels right, and what helps him out a lot is I point him in the right direction and I let him figure it out.”

His numbers confirm something has been figured out. He enters the Cubs series with player of the week caliber credentials (.476/.522/1.095, four home runs, seven RBI, 10 runs scored over the last five games). The Sox enter with a 15-11 record with designs on making the postseason for the first time since Anderson, 27, was a 15-year-old kid growing up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Besides that boisterous level of production from the leadoff spot, Anderson’s vocal energy also seems relevant, especially with no fans at ballparks to generate any. Fan mojo will be noticeably absent during the crosstown series.

“Obviously, missing the fans,” Anderson said. “But I came up through the minor leagues where there really wasn’t a lot of fans so I’m used to it. We just got to motivate ourselves. We have to find that thing to get us going.”

Finding a leadoff hitter to get them going has not been an issue.

“The energizer bunny, baby,” Anderson said last week. “Just my presence, being in that lineup definitely made the guys go. Make the other team scared.”

Yoan Moncada was not in the lineup Friday:

1. Tim Anderson SS

2. Yasmani Grandal C

3. Jose Abreu 1B

4. Eloy Jimenez LF

5. Edwin Encarnacion DH

6. Luis Robert CF

7. Danny Mendick 2B

8. Adam Engel RF

9. Ryan Goins 3B

Dallas Keuchel P

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