Wednesday, May 31, 2023

What’s Behind Tim Anderson’s Uncharacteristic Struggles? 


Tim Anderson doesn’t look like himself.

This season he is batting. .246 /.287/.287, which is very uncharacteristic for the man who entered the 2022 season with an MLB-best .322 batting average since 2019. Those are alarming numbers for the face of the franchise and the backbone of the lineup. 

Within the last year, Anderson is slashing .262/.295/.313 over 326 plate appearances. During that stretch, he has played 74 games and hit into more double (13) plays than extra-base hits (12). 

His expected slugging percentage has taken a nose dive as well, plummeting from the 75th percentile of MLB hitters in 2022 to the 37th percentile in 2023. He is still waiting on his first home run this season. 

The two-time All-Star has never hit the ball hard if you look at his averages throughout his career. 

After going to Driveline to work on his swing during the offseason, his HardHit percentage is the highest it has been in his career at 50 percent. His previous high was 42.3 percent in 2021. Anderson’s 89 mph average exit velocity is also the highest it’s ever been. 

Anderson’s plate discipline has actually improved this season. His chase rate is at 31.8 percent, which is still above the MLB average but by far the lowest of his career. 

The 29-year-old shortstop also owns the highest walk rate of his career at 5.4 percent and the second-lowest strikeout rate of his career at 18.6 percent. The only year he had a lower strikeout rate was in 2022 at 15.7 percent. 

Some of those numbers could be a result of a smaller sample size and fewer games played.  

But it also shows he is less aggressive at the plate. The numbers reflect that. Anderson is swinging at the fewer pitches. In fact, his Swing percentage is the lowest it’s been since his rookie year at 53.7 percent. His highest swing percentage was in 2019 (58.6 percent), the year he won the batting title. That was also the year he had his highest chase rate. 

So why the sudden change in approach? Part of it could be due to injury. Since returning from his groin injury last year, Anderson has not looked the same. Throw-in hand surgery at the end of last season and a knee sprain early in 2023, and Anderson is clearly not at full strength. 

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol even gave him a day off on Sunday. 

“He’s getting a day off because we feel his body needs to recover,” Grifol said before the game. “He’s played a lot of games in a row. We don’t necessarily take players of his caliber out because they’re scuffling; that’s not what we do. We give players a day because their body needs it. They need to recover. That’s where we’re at.”

A player who relies heavily on his quick reflexes and athletic ability may shift his approach to prolong his career as he ages. Only a few players can play the style of baseball Tim Anderson does. But with age, it becomes harder to do the less athletic you become, especially on the defensive end. 

When Luis Robert was in a slump, he provided good defense on the opposite end, which made him a valuable contributor to the lineup. Anderson has struggled on the defensive end, turning him into a liability during this rough patch. 

The fans turning on him does not help, either. Anderson is a player who feeds off confidence and positive energy. He even admitted to Chuck Garfein that he was listening to all the criticism the team was getting last season and did not appreciate it. 

It’s clear he hears what people are saying about him. He even blocked a Twitter user who started the rumor that Anderson said, “I hate this place,” when he was talking to Jose Abreu on first base during a game against the Astros. 

People are quick to criticize TA, but it’s easy to forget that he was the one that returned the White Sox to national relevancy with his bat-flipping antics, a batting title, and energy on the field. He was a cover athlete for RBI Baseball and Sports Illustrated. He represented the White Sox in two All-Star games and provided fans with one of the greatest moments in the last decade with his walk-off home run in the Field of Dreams game.

If you are a White Sox fan, how can you watch that and not get chills? Be patient with Tim Anderson, and don’t take how great he was the past few seasons for granted.

During the World Baseball Classic, Anderson showed that he can still play the game at a high level, so don’t write off his athletic ability just yet. What he needs is some renewed confidence. 


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May 25, 2023 12:34 pm

Apologists for TA are out in full force these days. He’s never been even average at short. His numbers this year offensively are much lower then his career digits admittedly and he’s better than that slash line listed in the article but his obp has always been below average as well. This player has been used as a poster boy and very much overhyped for whatever their reasons were but as always reality is settling in. I’d like to see him moved to the OF, however we have absolutely nothing better to replace him with….so…it’s just more of the same… Read more »

Yaz M
Yaz M
May 23, 2023 12:56 pm

Fuck that dude, he is done, TRADE HIM!

Sybilla Rose
Sybilla Rose
May 23, 2023 6:36 am

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Last edited 8 days ago by vprichodko

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