Anderson: 'Positive' season for White Sox with better days to come
Last year, the White Sox learned to crawl.
Finishing second in the AL Central behind the Twins in a challenging regular season shortened to 60 games by COVID-19, the Sox made it to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years as a wild card.
It was a short stay, and the White Sox went home after losing two of three to the Athletics in a "bubble" series played in Oakland.
This year, the Sox learned to walk.
They finished first in the division for the first time since 2008 and drew more than 80,000 in two ALDS games at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Game 3 on Sunday night will be long remembered. Trailing the Astros 5-1 early, the White Sox roared back for a 12-6 win.
Game 4 on Tuesday will be easy to forget.
Falling behind Houston 5-1 again, the Sox never caught the comeback spark, lost 10-1 and headed for home.
Next year, they'll be looking to run much deeper into October.
"Overall, I think it was a positive season," White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said Thursday. "A lot of positives in there. We won the division, that didn't happen last year. We also brought two playoff games to Chicago, that didn't happen last year. So I think it's just a step to where we're trying to get to, we've just got to keep believing and trusting in that process and take it step by step.
"Overall, I think it was a huge step this year. We competed all season, through injuries, really through everything. And just for us to get to where we were, it says a lot about the ballclub and this organization."
Looking back on the ALDS, the Sox were badly outplayed by the Astros in the first two games of the series in Houston and the final one at Guaranteed Rate Field.
White Sox starters Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon pitched a combined 12⅓ innings and allowed 14 earned runs on 14 hits and 12 walks.
The Sox's offense batted .291/.361/.376 and 35 of their 41 hits were singles.
The defense was shaky as well, and the combination of letdowns was way too much for the White Sox to overcome.
"You had two pretty good ballclubs going at it, and obviously they were the better ballclub," Anderson said. "They won the series. They put together more at-bats than we did, they came up with more clutch hits than we did. But I know we competed all the way to the end in that whole series. They ended up the better team."
The Sox are aiming to be the better playoff team in 2022, and it's all but certain 77-year-old manager Tony La Russa will be back to give it another try.
Like teammates Jose Abreu, Rodon and Gavin Sheets the past few days, Anderson said he enjoyed playing for the Hall of Famer in his first season back after coming out of retirement.
"Huge impact," Anderson said. "Everybody thought we weren't going to get along, but we were talking behind the scenes the whole time. For him, the players come first, and he makes that known. We're one big family.
"I think he did a great job coming in and being a part of what we're trying to do. I couldn't be more happy with what he did.
"For me, yeah, I want him to be back. But at the end of the day, my decision doesn't really matter, so I guess it all depends on what the front office thinks. But from my half, as far as speaking from a player's standpoint, for sure."