The 2021 White Sox find themselves atop the AL Central, with a small lead over the second-place Indians. This is in spite of a plethora of injuries to key players such as Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, and Michael Kopech. While no one can know how the rest of the season will unfold, here is an opinion that is sure to stir controversy amongst White Sox faithful: Tim Anderson should be on the AL All-Star team this season.
Yes, when one looks at the stats for AL shortstops, Anderson"s name does not jump off the page. In fact, the only category where he leads AL shortstops is BABIP, with a .376 average. He ranks only fifth in WAR, with Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa well ahead of him in that category. His defense has been weak at times; he has the lowest walk rate in the AL, and he strikes out too much.
2021 White Sox: There"s More To The Story
Statistically, some, or perhaps many would argue that Anderson does not belong in the All-Star discussion. There is certainly merit in that argument, as his numbers do not stand out above the rest. However, as the legendary Paul Harvey would remind his listeners, oftentimes one needs to know the rest of the story to get a full picture of the issue at hand. In Anderson"s case, it is important to look beyond the numbers when considering whether he merits consideration.
The Case For Tim Anderson
So, on what basis do we propose that Anderson belongs in the All-Star game? After all, his numbers do not measure up to several other shortstops, most notably Correa and Bogaerts. They are both clearly having better seasons than Anderson. Many would say that numbers don"t lie, and there is truth in that statement. However, let"s look at “the rest of the story" here, and see if we can make some sense out of our proposal.
In Defense of Tim Anderson – Part One
The first point to consider is the idea that the 2021 White Sox have one of the best records in the AL. In fact, until just last weekend, they had the best record in the league. This is in spite of the serious injuries they have endured. They have held first place in the AL Central for a good part of the season. So, it is inarguable that they have had an excellent season to this point.
That said (and this point may be debatable), it seems as if it would only make sense that at least one position player from the 2021 White Sox is on the All-Star team. Yes, their starting pitching has been outstanding and has largely carried the team to where it stands today. Still, the Sox are among all teams in run differential, so somebody has to be doing something well away from the mound.
In Defense of Tim Anderson – Part Two
If we accept the premise above, the question turns to just which position player has done the most to lead the Sox to where they are? Most fans would agree that this would be a question involving just two players: Anderson and first baseman Jose Abreu. Each brings his own qualifications to the table: Abreu leads the team in RBIs (again), while Anderson leads in batting average, stolen bases, and runs scored. So, which of these two is more worthy of a spot on the All-Star team?
This is where the intangibles make the difference. Yes, Abreu carries a certain leadership role, and he does it well. He is respected by his teammates, and has an incredible work ethic. These are undeniable facts, and the reigning MVP will always be an integral part of this team. However, there is no question that the 2021 White Sox would not be where they are without Tim Anderson. He has been their leadoff man since Opening Day, and sets the tone for the rest of the team. He brings energy to the field every day, and his teammates feed off of that energy. He is brash, he is outspoken, and has established himself as a vocal leader of his team.
There is no doubt that, statistically, Tim Anderson is at best the third-best shortstop in the AL. Furthermore, it may be that the American League only needs two shortstops on the All-Star team. There is also no doubt that Anderson has helped spark the 2021 White Sox to a place of prominence in the AL, if not in all of baseball. There is no telling how the 2021 season will play out; but, Tim Anderson has played well to this point. The case can be made that he has been the leading position player on his team. Seeing as how the 2021 White Sox have the biggest division lead in the AL, Anderson deserves recognition for his accomplishments.
A shortstop who bats leadoff and hits just under .300, and brings energy, passion, and leadership to his team is a valuable player. He is also a player worthy of All-Star consideration. Whether he makes the All-Star team remains to be seen, however, we believe that he has earned a spot on the team; we will just have to wait and see if those in charge agree. Good luck, TA!
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