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White Sox: Can Tim Anderson Avoid Sophomore Slump?

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Sep 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (12) throws to first base for the out during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (12) throws to first base for the out during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /
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White Sox shortstop provided solid contributions offensively and defensively in his rookie season. Will the young shortstop be able to contribute positively in his second season, first full MLB season?

The Chicago White Sox finally enjoyed success from a homegrown position player in 2016. The emergence of Tim Anderson was one of the few bright spots in another dismal season for the Sox. With Anderson taking over at shortstop full-time, can the young player improve next season?

It would benefit the Sox greatly if Anderson is able to avoid a sophomore slump in 2017. Anderson finished his first major league season with a .283 batting average, nine home runs and 10 stolen bases. This came in 99 games played for the Sox. in 2016

Anderson’s emergence was positive sign for the Sox farm system. The Sox have sorely lacked a quality position player from its farm system. The last position player to have a successful rookie season after being called up was Gordon Beckham in 2009. However, Beckham never recovered from a sophomore slump in 2010.

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After hitting .270 in his rookie season, Beckham hit .252 with just nine home runs in 2010. In 2009, Beckham hit 14 home runs to go along with 63 RBI’s. 2009 would be Beckham’s best season in MLB. Sox fans should hope Anderson doesn’t have a dramatic drop in production in his second season.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Anderson struggles to begin 2017. The league will continue to make adjustments to Anderson, and it will be up to him and Sox coaching to make counter-adjustments. Anderson will have to continue laying off pitches out of the zone. One of his biggest weaknesses are pitches in that area.

This past season, Anderson saw the most pitches low and away in the strikezone. According to data gathered by brooksbaseball.net, Anderson saw 174 pitches in this area. However, Anderson made counter-adjustments to swinging at pitches low and away. From August 1 until the end of season, Anderson’s swing rate was 21.5 percent in this area. His swing rate before Aug. 1 was 44.3 percent on pitches low and away.

Anderson should fare much better on pitches low and away next season, so this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. What could become troublesome is Anderson’s strikeout percentage. In 2016, Anderson had a 27.2 strikeout percentage. This certainly won’t bode well for Anderson in a full season in 2017. His aggressiveness at the plate could ultimately stunt his growth as a player next season.

Next: Can Rick Renteria Lead White Sox Back to Postseason?

One of the main factors for the Sox contending in 2017 will be solid contributions from Anderson. He will be playing in his first full MLB season. Anderson will undoubtedly be a key fixture for the Sox for years to come, but it will depend on his ability to produce consistently. If Anderson can do this, he could very well become a star for the Sox.

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