Tim Anderson needs three home runs to become the fourth player in White Sox history to hit 100-plus homers and steal 100-plus bases, joining Minnie Minoso, Alexei Ramirez and Ray Durham.
It will be a nice milestone when he gets there, but it’s taking longer than expected for the All-Star shortstop, who has just one homer since May 22 and six this season after averaging 16 over his last five seasons.
Anderson (.313/.352/.411) has reached base in 17 straight games with a hitting streak extended to nine in the White Sox’ 4-1 victory over the Royals on Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field. The two-time batting champ’s production with a lack of power reflects the Sox’ puzzling offense this season.
“Ball goes far, team goes far,” general manager Rick Hahn said.
There’s nothing mystifying about that. When the Sox hit a home run, as they did Wednesday courtesy of Jose Abreu’s three-run liner into the right-center-field seats, they’re 38-25. When they hit two or more, they’re 17-3.
Anderson isn’t the only Sox player not going deep. Abreu leads the team with a modest 14 homers, the latest shot with Anderson and Andrew Vaughn on base in the third inning. Abreu also homered in the 9-2 win Tuesday.
Luis Robert (12) and Vaughn (10) are next on the Sox’ home-run leaderboard, which is missing at least one important name. After hitting 23 in 93 games last season, Yasmani Grandal has two homers in 59 games.
The Sox (53-51) have been the most disappointing team in the majors, but they’ve won 12 of their last 18 games and 14 in 22, and need to get the power turned on in their August and September push to win the American League Central. They trail the Twins by two games.
Providing a glimmer of home-run hope is Eloy Jimenez, who extended his hitting streak to nine games with three singles, a streak that includes three homers. It’s what the Sox desperately need from him.
The Sox’ 91 home runs rank 25th in the majors. Last season, they were 11th with 190 with essentially the same team. They’re third in hits, fourth in average and 17th in runs.
A head-scratcher, to be sure.
“This is a team that two years ago had three Silver Sluggers [in Anderson, Abreu and Jimenez],” Hahn said.
And maybe none this season.
The shortage of runs is “a byproduct of the lack of power, or not accessing the power that this lineup has,” Hahn said.
And not taking advantage of a hitter’s ballpark. Hit it out, and the runs will come.
“That’s kind of how it works a lot of the time,” Hahn said. “We know there’s that element in there. Hopefully, we see more of it.”
Abreu homered in consecutive games for the first time since last August. He’s hitting .375/.423/.574 with five homers, 12 doubles and 23 RBI in his last 35 games and has homered in three of his last four games. A career .334/.389/.607 hitter with 58 home runs and 172 RBI in August, he might just keep it going.
The Sox have 26 hits in the last two days, both wins over the Royals. Only three of them were home runs, but there’s nothing wrong with lots of hits.
“Yeah, we are all clicking,” said Vaughn, who had two singles to raise his average to .299. “Stringing hits together, everybody was hitting the ball hard. And finding holes, and we were putting them all together and scoring runs, which is good.”
“Everyone 1 through 9 is going up there swinging, and it’s good.”