Where have Tim Anderson’s stolen bases gone? The Chicago White Sox sophomore must find his speed again for a successful 2017 season.
The Chicago White Sox will probably see their 2017 season end after 162 games. Of all the teams in baseball, few are trying harder to lose than they are. This doesn’t mean they are completely void of promising moments as the roster contains some of the league’s best young players.
One of those men is shortstop Tim Anderson. The 23-year-old made his debut with the White Sox last season after they realized the Jimmy Rollins signing was a mistake. While Anderson hardly compares to other recent rookie shortstops like Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor, he remains a guy with some really good potential.
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Anderson hit quite well in 2016 after his call-up to the big leagues. His .283 batting average was halfway decent for a guy who may not have been ready for the show. The .306 OBP was far more alarming as it showed Anderson’s rookie impatience shining through.
More important than drawing walks on a frequent basis, Anderson needs to start stealing bases again. He swiped only 10 in 12 tries with the White Sox last year through 99 games. This was a huge disappointment after stealing 49 bases the year before in Double-A.
Of course, stolen bases tend to fade the higher speedy players get. Pitchers are better at holding runners on base. They are also better at pitching which makes for fewer opportunities to steal in the first place. Additionally, MLB catchers are far superior at the big league level when it comes to gunning down runners. This is hardly an excuse, as Anderson has shown he has exceptional speed.
The first step toward running more often is striking out a whole lot less. Anderson’s average can stay at .283. His OBP can even flounder at a total slightly above .300. However, he cannot continue to go down on strikes at a rate of 191 per 162 games. This eliminates those times when he can reach on a fielder’s choice. Although minimal, it does add up over the course of a season. Anderson can sneak on base via an error and sneak a couple of extra hits through a hole. The key is to put the bat on the ball.
Once Anderson begins to make contact at a consistent rate, the hits should come. His batting eye has been pretty terrible thus far in his MLB career. To make matters worse, he is generally a light hitter. His nine home runs with the White Sox last year were especially surprising considering the expectations.
These younger, healthier years in Anderson’s career are the perfect time to steal a whole bunch of bases. As history has shown, many of the game’s fastest men accumulate the bulk of their stolen bases in their first few seasons. The White Sox must not hesitate to send him a little more often. They are building toward possibly one of the best pair of base stealers of anyone in the league with infielder Yoan Moncada now also in the system. With Adam Eaton gone, it’s up to Anderson to supply the White Sox with speed at the top.