Tuesday, May 21, 2024

From Franchise Face To Free Agent: Tim Anderson Reflects On White Sox Tenure

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Tim Anderson wanted to be the face of baseball. By the end of his White Sox tenure, he could no longer handle being the face of the franchise. 

Love him or hate him you will be hard-pressed to find a more polarizing player in White Sox history than TA.  The 2024 season marks the first time in eight years that the White Sox won’t have Anderson roaming the infield. Yesterday the 30-year-old shortstop returned to Chicago and spoke to the media for the first time since the White Sox cut ties with him in free agency. 

Anderson acknowledged he knew his time on the South Side was coming to an end. According to White Sox beat writer James Fegan, Anderson asked for an extension “year after year.” When no extension came he sensed his time on the White Sox would end. He added that he is okay with being free of the pressure of ‘As TA goes, so go the White Sox’ because as Anderson put “it takes a whole team.” 

It was an interesting response from a player who was seemingly the center of attention from 2019-2021. But when you take a step back the sentiment makes sense. Anderson was always more of a quiet player who kept to himself. His play on the field was always louder than his comments off of it. As his fame grew he slowly began to come out of his shell. However, he also grew a target on his back.  

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Anderson helped put the White Sox back on the map. He blossomed from an athletic rookie with potential to a two-time All-Star and batting champion.  His bat-flipping antics and confidence on the field made it fun to be a White Sox fan. His walk-off home run at the first-ever Field of Dreams Game made many proud to be a White Sox fan. Each year he seemed to do something worth coming to the ballpark to see. 

As Anderson’s confidence grew the White Sox began to focus a marketing campaign around him. Anderson was leading the charge of trying to make the game fun. He compared himself to Jackie Robinson, something that rubbed many people the wrong way, as a pioneer for the game. All of this talk was backed up by his play on the field. 

In 2019 he led the major leagues with a .335 batting average joining Luke Appling and Frank Thomas as the only players in franchise history to win an AL batting title. His nine hits over his first three postseason games in 2020 are the most in MLB history. 

In 2021 he was named the cover athlete of R.B.I Baseball becoming the first White Sox player to be featured on the cover of a video game. He followed that up by batting over .300 for the third consecutive season. He also hit five home runs from the leadoff spot, giving him 13 total in his career, which was good enough for the second most in franchise history. 

As Anderson got better the White Sox got better. But when his production began to slip in 2022 things got ugly fast. Injuries and off-field drama quickly derailed his White Sox career. Last season he had an OPS+ of 61, which marked a new career low as an affair with an Instagram model and an alleged altercation with Yasmani Grandal dominated the headlines. Suddenly the weight of being the face of a franchise began much heavier as criticism mounted. 

According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Anderson was asked why things did not work out.  “A lot of my decisions off the field kind of interrupted a lot of things,” Anderson said. “We understood that. It’s hard to win when you don’t have the right guys to go out and compete. And want to win it.” 

Credit to Anderson for his honesty. This is not the first time he has owned up to some of his missteps off the field. There is also some truth to what he said. By all accounts, the end of the White Sox so-called “contention window” had a clubhouse that lacked leadership and accountability. It was evident by their play on the field that it was a team that was not dedicated to winning baseball games. 

While the ultimate goal of winning a World Series never materialized, Anderson was one of the primary reasons the White Sox were fun again for a few brief seasons. His highs in a White Sox uniform far outweighed the lows and fans should not hold any animosity toward him because of it.

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Tcloud
Tcloud
Apr 20, 2024 9:25 am

Hold the mustard, he won’t be missed. “Don’t have the right guys to compete” says the guy who hit .254 last year. Stellar defense too.

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