Gonzales: Tim Anderson is a guiding light in White Sox fortunes

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson has certainly been a bright light for the team as it continues to improve.

    White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson has certainly been a bright light for the team as it continues to improve. Associated Press

 
Updated 6/10/2021 10:54 AM

Television announcer Jason Benetti simply refers to the White Sox's multitalented shortstop as "Tim."

That single-name designation is often reserved for international legends such as Pele and Ichiro.

 

But in the White Sox's world, Tim Anderson's career has kept pace with the soaring fortunes of the organization, from his learning lessons to his flair for success and the attainable ceiling for growth.

"There's no secret," Anderson said in a brief interview Tuesday while not wanting to disrupt his pregame routine. "You've come this far to try to win something and continue to get better and continue to work.

"You ain't playing just to play, for sure. No secret we're trying to win everything."

Anderson's belief in himself and his teammates was evident long before he was goaded by the "Parkins and Spiegel Show" on WSCR-AM 670 in late February when he declared the Sox were the best team in the American League, with a profane word used for emphasis.

Anderson, 27, like so many Sox fans, are eager after having sand kicked in their faces for nearly a decade. Anderson was a first-round pick in 2013 when the organization resembled a generation with little direction.

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"It's just worked out the way it's supposed to, just coming in and doing what I'm told, doing things that I need to do, and listen to the people that I need to," Anderson said. "And just continue to work to get better."

"If there's a good pitch to hit, hit it," Tim Anderson says, here connecting on a two-run homer in 2019.
"If there's a good pitch to hit, hit it," Tim Anderson says, here connecting on a two-run homer in 2019. - Associated Press

But questions whether Anderson would be better suited as a center fielder need to be quelled, and breaking into the majors during the infant stages of an overdue rebuild required more patience.

As Anderson settled in, his presence in the organization became greater to the point where he and his family moved to the Chicago area from his native Alabama on a permanent basis to become more involved in the community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

His efforts to help an array of groups, from youths affected by violence to promoting gun violence prevention to helping provide school supplies.

At the same time, Anderson has given the White Sox an edge that caused the rest of the American League to take notice. His bat flip that incited a fight against the Royals occurred in April of 2019 -- the same season he won the AL batting title.

And he diplomatically disagreed with Tony La Russa, his third Sox manager, after teammate Yermin Mercedes ignored the take sign on a 3-0 pitch and hit a homer off utility player Willians Astudillo of the Twins May 17.

"The players run the show -- we're the ones out there playing," Anderson said three weeks later. "The coaches are there for us, and they make that known that they're outlets if we need them, and they put us in the best situation to be successful. But other than that, we're the guys out there grinding every day."

Anderson has remained true to his style despite the hovering influence of analytics. He won the batting title from the leadoff spot despite drawing only 15 walks and still managed a .357 on-base percentage.

"If there's a good pitch to hit, hit it," Anderson said. "We're not really thinking too much. We're just keeping it simple. It's just baseball."

Tim Anderson has improved his defense immeasurably, and he gives much credit to coach Joe McEwing.
Tim Anderson has improved his defense immeasurably, and he gives much credit to coach Joe McEwing. - Associated Press

Defensively, Anderson credited much of his improvement to coach Joe McEwing, who has helped him become more prepared and better positioned prior to each pitch.

Anderson has been charged with only four errors in his first 47 games, a remarkable improvement from his 28 miscues in his first full major league season in 2017.

That includes only three throwing errors in his last 95 games dating to 2020 after committing 13 in 122 games in 2019.

"I couldn't be happier or proud of one guy," McEwing said. " ... To see how much hard work he's put in over the years to get to the point where he is.

"He still isn't done. It's not a finished product. But never put a limit on him and what he can and cannot do on a baseball field."

• Mark Gonzales is a veteran sports writer who covered the White Sox from 2005-2012 and the Cubs from 2013-2020 for the Tribune. @MDGonzales

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