Anderson reaches superstar status with White Sox

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago White Sox's Tim Anderson reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Chicago, Sunday, June 2, 2019.

    Chicago White Sox's Tim Anderson reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Chicago, Sunday, June 2, 2019. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/14/2020 6:57 PM

Trending way up in 2019 and again this season, Tim Anderson took his game to an even higher level on baseball's most important stage.

In the opening round of the playoffs, the White Sox's bats failed to come through with runners in scoring position (4-for-28) against the Athletics. Don't blame Anderson.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In the best-of-three series at Oakland -- the Sox lost 2 of 3 and were eliminated -- Anderson always seemed to be on second or third base waiting for the big hit.

"These are the moments you want to be in," the 27-year-old shortstop said. "Who's going to come up big? Who's going to get that big hit? It's all about those moments, and you never want to turn away from those moments.

"That's how you stamp your name, that's how you carry your team, as well. Just got to keep going, continue to be a great teammate, continue to lead and try to guide these guys in the right direction. Hopefully we'll be having this same conversation next year, but on the other end."

Anderson had 3 hits in each of the White Sox's games against the A's and is the first player in baseball history to record 9 hits in his first 3 postseason games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

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"That's our leadoff hitter," Sox ace Lucas Giolito said of Anderson, who was 9-for-14 in the playoffs. "He comes through and sets the tone. He gets up for every single game. He's loose, he's free. He keeps it fun in the dugout.

"Just another great player we have on this team."

First baseman Jose Abreu is the big favorite to win American League MVP honors this season, but Anderson also earned consideration after batting .322/.357/.529 with 10 home runs and 21 RBI over 49 games in the regular season.

In a great position to win his second straight batting title with a .377 average on Sept. 15, Anderson tired down the stretch while going 6-for-46 over his final 11 games.

He still finished second in the AL behind the Yankees' DJ LeMahieu (.364) and has become one of the game's most popular players based on his skill and flair.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"You see the passion he plays with, you see how much he loves the game," White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel said. "I think he's going to be a force to be reckoned with and someone who some of these younger guys can learn from."

Anderson is undoubtedly a leader on a solid Sox team that should be even better moving forward with a proven manager like AJ Hinch or possibly Alex Cora.

He's not afraid to speak his mind -- most recently jabbing the Athletics' decision to start a left-hander in Game 1 despite the White Sox's unbeaten record vs. southpaws.

But Anderson backs up his weighted words with hard work.

Looking to improve his defense after leading the majors with 26 errors in 2019, Anderson was at the Bo Jackson Dome in Lockport five days a week last winter. He took thousands of groundballs and was a much better shortstop this season.

"Just seeing where I was a couple of years ago to where I am now, I put the work in and it's showing," Anderson said. "I can't tell you enough how good I want to be, how hard I work. I just come to the ballpark every day to perfect my craft and I want to be the best."

Anderson is an active, aggressive player, so he's prone to injury. He missed 10 games with a strained groin this season and a month last year with a sprained ankle.

Danny Mendick can play shortstop and Leury Garcia is another fill-in candidate if the White Sox pick up his $3.5 million club option for 2021.

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