Twins in trouble? If White Sox superstar Tim Anderson says it, it must be true
Who in baseball delivers more on his preseason proclamations than the 27-year-old Anderson? The only acceptable answer is nobody.
Right around this time two years ago, a report broke that monster free agent Manny Machado had reached an agreement with the Padres. That meant no signing with the White Sox. And that meant no messing with Tim Anderson’s spot at shortstop.
Less than an hour after hearing the news, Anderson took a load off in a quiet room at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, and rolled his eyes.
“I was never going to move,” he said. “I never once thought if he did sign here that I would move.”
Coming off a brutal 2018 season at the plate, Anderson upped the ante.
“I’m expecting to have a career year,” he said.
Goodbye, .240. Hello, .335 and a big-league batting title.
Last year at this time, in a similar captive interview at the Sox’ spring complex, Anderson scoffed at MLB Network’s just-released Top 100 player rankings. He’d crashed the list — barely — at 95th overall and 13th among shortstops.
“Man, let me tell you, there’s nobody better than me,” he said. “There’s nobody who can stop me. I’m coming for whatever there is.”
In an abbreviated 2020 season, he finished second in the American League in batting average and homered and drove in runs at career-high paces. Bigger picture, he blew up into one of the game’s brightest young stars. The Sox fared pretty well, too, in case you hadn’t heard.
Today, Anderson ranks 27th on MLBN’s list — the biggest jump of any player who was ranked in 2020 — and trails only Fernando Tatis Jr. (sixth), Francisco Lindor (15th), Trevor Story (16th), Corey Seager (24th) and Trea Turner (25th) among shortstops. Another season like the last two, and it’s look out, above.
“Just continue to keep proving I’m one of the best shortstops in the game,” he said. “Continue to keep leading these guys in the right direction. Be ready every time I step on the field. … Continue to keep being dominant.”
Who in baseball delivers more on his preseason proclamations than the 27-year-old Anderson? The only acceptable answer is nobody. On that front, the Twins — some folks’ favorites to win the AL Central — should consider themselves warned.
“Look [on] paper,” Anderson said. “We are way more athletic than them, and that’s just true facts.”
The reigning two-time division champs added pitcher J.A. Happ, former Sox closer Alex Colome and shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the offseason and re-signed slugger Nelson Cruz. That’s probably not a winning 4x100-meter relay combination, if we’re being honest, but they can play some baseball.
Anderson is undeterred.
“They have some guys over there,” he said. “We are motivated and I’m sure they are motivated, and we’ll go head-to-head and see what happens. We have a pretty good shot of whuppin’ on them.”
They’re going to crush Anderson for these comments in Minnesota, aren’t they? Imagine the lusty boos he’d hear at Target Field with fans packing the house when the teams first play there in mid-May. The Twins have their bulletin-board material in case they need any.
Guess who wouldn’t know how to care less if he tried?
“Everybody knows we’re trying to win a World Series,” Anderson said.
“We are dead serious, and I couldn’t be more proud to be right in the mix of it. I’m going to give everything I’ve got to try to deliver something that is really cool and really dope, something you can cherish for life.”
There’s that word again: “deliver.”
It’s what the man does.
And what about that other shortstop in town? In 2020, MLBN ranked the Cubs’ Javy Baez 23rd overall and fourth among players at his position. No doubt, the Baez arrow was pointing up. Now? He’s at 61st overall and ninth among shortstops. Guess that’s what one catastrophic season at the plate — even a mere 60-gamer — will do to a guy.
• Baseball is better off without Kevin Mather, who resigned Monday as Mariners president and CEO after having spewed ignorance about non-English-speaking players and stuck his spikes in his mouth by blatantly admitting to service-time manipulation. Previous accusations by multiple women of inappropriate workplace conduct made for a heck of a backdrop as Mather publicly crumbled.
Come to think of it, baseball would be better off without racism, screwing over the most talented prospects and treating women like trash, too. Imagine that.
• An “exclusive” franchise tag? A “non-exclusive” franchise tag? A “nice knowing you” luggage tag?
Here’s something the Bears can slap on wide receiver Allen Robinson: a “best wide receiver in team history” tag.
A tip of the helmet to Johnny Morris, Harlon Hill, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall or whoever else that could be considered the all-time WR1 for the Bears. Here’s one vote for Robinson. Pay that man his money.
• Zach LaVine’s All-Star credentials vs. Yoan Moncada’s rock-star credentials:
• A tip of the helmet to Notre Dame for deciding it won’t provide its name, logos and other branding property to EA Sports for the company’s hugely popular college football video game until, according to a statement from athletic director Jack Swarbrick, “rules have been finalized governing the participation of our student-athletes.”
Are you listening, Illinois and Northwestern?
“As those rules are developed,” the statement continued, “it is our strong desire that student-athletes be allowed to benefit directly from allowing their name, image and performance history to be used in the game.”
Hear, hear. A good start.