Despite hitless Game 4, strong ALDS cements Anderson's clutch reputation
During the White Sox workout at Guaranteed Rate Field this past Saturday, shortstop Tim Anderson mixed in his usual assortment of spray-the-field hits with a long ball that he cranked into the left-field bleachers.
Moments later, he sidled up to teammate Luis Robert and declared, "I'm like you!"
The good-natured remark belies Anderson's own place in the major league annals: when it comes to banging out base hits, nobody else in history has been like him.
En route to a record 16 hits through his first six playoff games, Anderson notched 3 hits in all but one of those contests -- his 1-for-4 in the American League division series opener at Houston last week. So, he was already in rarefied air when he took the field Tuesday for Game 4 of the ALDS. Only 24 players in postseason history have ever recorded more 3-hit games.
Though he went 0-for-4 in the 10-1 series-ending loss to the Astros, Anderson's clutch reputation has already been cemented.
His success in key moments includes a dramatic walk-off home run in the Field of Dreams Game against the New York Yankees in August. When asked about it during the ALDS, he explained, "I want to be in those moments. The camera is on. People are here to watch you."
Over his six-year career, the most hits Anderson has tallied in a six-game period during the regular season came with a 15-for-25 spree in April 2019. He concluded that year as the American League batting champion with a .335 average -- and has put together another two .300-plus campaigns.
After a middling .258 average his first three seasons, Anderson's .322 mark the last three years is the highest in the big leagues among qualified hitters.
After his 9-for-14 (. 643) performance in the 2020 playoffs against the Oakland A's, Anderson was 7-for-15 in the ALDS before his hitless Tuesday. On Sunday, he led off the bottom of the first inning with a single to right field that exemplified his take-what-they-give-you approach. Later, he hit two sharp groundballs up the middle, including one that brought in Chicago's 12th and final run.
Before Game 4, Houston shortstop Carlos Correa attributed Anderson's success to recognizing his strengths, such as hitting the ball to the opposite field and using his speed.
"He doesn't try to hit the ball too hard. He doesn't try to hit homers. He doesn't try to pull the ball," said Correa. "He knows what he is good at, and that's going the other way, letting the ball travel."
For his part, Anderson has shrugged off the accolades that have come from his record-breaking hit-making. When his 13 hits through five games were brought to his attention at that time, his response was restrained.
"I don't get a ring for that," he observed, "so it doesn't really do anything for me."