Here he is, ladies and gentlemen: Your 2019 American League Batting Champion and Gold Medal Winning Bat Flipper……
/PYRO GOES OFF
/CROWD GOES BALLISTIC
/NED YOST SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTS
2.9 BB% 21.0 K%
18 HR 56 RBI 86 R
.363 wOBA 130 wRC+ 3.5 WAR
Defensive Runs Saved -9
Tell Me A Story: In a season where Rick Hahn really needed some pieces of The Future™ to break out and give the rebuild a nice new glossy shine, Tim Anderson stepped up and not only gave Hahn a success story (along with Yoan and a few others), but the White Sox organization a face and an attitude they can market the living shit out of if they do it right. This season can be classified as nothing but a giant plus for Tim Anderson and the team, and while there are a few questions going forward, it’s nice to finally have something to energize the fan base and get people excited about the product on the field again.
Looking at Anderson’s stats this season there are a few things that immediately leap out at you, the first of which is obviously his AL leading batting average and his .508 slugging percentage. The .357 OBP tells you the thing that we’ve known all along as Sox fans, mainly that Tim Anderson is not up there looking to take a walk. His 21% K rate is league average however, which means that he’s able more often than not to put the ball in play. So the big question is how was Tim able to boost his batting average by almost .095 this season? His .399 BABIP suggests a good chunk of those gains were of the batted ball luck variety. Looking at his contact rates shows everything pretty close to his career averages especially in terms of his hard hit rating (32.2%) and his line drive percentages (23.8%). Even looking at his batting average chart shows a player that has very little preference as to where the pitch is. If Tim thinks he can get to it (he does), then he’s going to swing at it.
So a fair chunk of Anderson’s offensive increases this season had something to do with batted ball luck, which is fine. This is the 2nd year of his 4 year career where he’s had a BABIP over .350. The first was his rookie year where his BABIP was .375 which is pretty high. Despite that he still hit .280, so BABIP in and of itself is not the only explanation for his high average. In reality, if his BABIP regresses next season to around .320 (which is statistically likely) you could expect Anderson to hit around .280-.285ish next season. I don’t know of anyone out there who wouldn’t take that from your likely #6 hitter next season, especially if the power numbers stay the same. Again, his slugging percentage was about .100 above his career average and I don’t think anyone expects that to stay the same but .450 would be more than acceptable for that spot in the lineup.
Defensively Tim had a pretty rough year, as the -9 DRS score is the worst of his career. In fact, he’s been negative twice for DRS out of the 4 years he’s played as in 2017 he was a -8. The other two years he was 0 and +6 giving him an average of -2.75 DRS per year. If you add in all of the other advanced fielding metrics like UZR and total errors, Tim grades out to be the worst shortstop defensively since 2017. The question then becomes one that is going to be repeated for the Sox in the search for a right fielder. Are you willing to sacrifice defense for offensive ability? Can Tim Anderson improve enough at SS to creep into the middle defensive tier where it’s a little more acceptable? The talent and ability to play solid D is definitely there, as he proved his rookie year when he was 15th out of 30 defensively in the league. He also has some of the better range and arm strength around. It’s a tough question, and one that Rick Hahn is going to have to answer before he hits the shopping market this off-season.
In addition to all the stats stuff, Tim Anderson is just a fun player to watch. Bat flips aside, he clearly has a ton of fun playing the game. He’s also extremely active in the community, and as a prominent African American playing baseball on the South Side of Chicago, that’s something that cannot be measured. His organization League of Leaders was founded in 2017 after a friend of Tim’s was shot and killed trying to help someone who was being beaten in an attack. In addition to that work, Tim donated $500 to the Anti-Violence network for every stolen base he had this past season. Jose Abreu may be the de facto leader in the clubhouse, but if you combine Tim’s charity work with the passion he shows on the field there’s no doubt the Sox have someone on their hands who can attract a younger, more diverse crowd to their product.
Contract: Signed through 2022 at $4.15 million with team options in 2023 and 24
Welcome Back Or Boot In The Ass: It’s not even a question, as a founding member of The Future™ and a member of the MLB “Let The Kids Play Until We Don’t Want Them Playing So Hard Because It Makes Old People Mad” group, Tim Anderson isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That being said, there are a few questions this off-season that are going to need to be answered.
1. Is shortstop the ultimate position for Tim Anderson?
2. How much regression is coming for his hitting?
3. Will the new Royals manager hate Tim as much as Ned Yost?
The answer to the first one (in my opinion) is yes. With the impending arrival of Luis Robert and the expected signing of a right fielder in the off-season combined with the fact that you don’t really have a replacement for Tim at short makes me think the Sox are going to be willing to deal with the defensive shortcomings for the foreseeable future.
As to the regression question, I personally would expect something along the lines of .285/305/.790 for Tim next year, using my tried and true mathematical method of pulling numbers freely out of my ass. Anything more than that and you have to start moving his comps up to the Xander Bogaerts level, which I’m completely fine with. Anything less than that would not agree with my model, and therefore is considered an outlier to be disregarded.
As for question number 3, that’s going to be a hard yes forever and ever.
Fuck the Royals.