SS Tim Anderson
Anderson was a breath of fresh air in 2016. The young shortstop knocked the cover off the ball at Triple-A Charlotte and earned a call up to the Windy City in early June.
An extremely raw player out of junior college, Anderson was always going to be rough around the edges.
Having been relatively new to baseball before he was drafted in 2013, the infielder has evolved before our eyes and shown a world of promise.
Anderson was originally framed as somewhat of a question mark at shortstop. The 23 year-old proved pundits wrong, showing quick hands and decent range at the position. His arm is certainly strong enough for him to be a competent factor in a double play tandem and he can make solid throws across the field from deep in the hole.
With even more reps at shortstop, Anderson should achieve even greater competency at the position. He’s a near lock to remain there for the foreseeable future.
On the offensive side, Anderson equally impressed. His raw approach was always going to be conducive to a low OBP profile. That proved to be true as he produced a .283/.306/.432 line.
Most of this was fueled by Anderson’s allergy to taking free passes, as his walk rate was only 3.0 percent. That’s not far off from what he showed across multiple levels in the minors though, so it’s one area of concern.
Anderson has a sweet stroke with plus bat speed and decent plate coverage. As a result, he’s a very aggressive hitter. He can work counts by chipping away at pitches, but more patience will ultimately lead to more balls in the zone that he can drive. It will also aid him in lowering his 27.1 percent strikeout rate.
Anderson had a decent line drive percentage (20.8 percent) and his fly ball percentage was in that range as well. His 54.3 percent groundball rate is merely a representation of his game, and he has enough speed to leg out plenty of infield hits.
In the long run, it would be wise for Anderson to have a little more loft in his swing and tap into his gap power more. Anderson’s .149 ISO and 12.3 percent HR/FB ratio were certainly a pleasant surprise. While he’ll never have 20 home run pop, a similar power output to Adam Eaton seems doable with even more doubles in his prime.
As it stands, Anderson collected 22 doubles, six triples, and nine home runs over 99 games. That equates to 32 doubles, 10 triples, and 15 home runs over a 162 game span. Not shabby at all.
Anderson undoubtedly has plus speed and he racked up ten stolen bags in 2016. He had 49 at Double-A Birmingham in 2015 and it’s possible he’ll be a thirty stolen base threat at the big league level. In any event, his speed plays very well from first to third.
Overall, it was a promising start for the young Anderson. A .738 OPS and competent defense at a premium position is certainly attractive fruit from the farm. Anderson was in an advanced course this year, so while he won’t receive an A, give the guy a little curve.