After tough first half, Anderson confident he can turn season around

July 14th, 2023

CHICAGO -- The game was on the line this past Sunday for the White Sox, trailing the Cardinals, 4-3, in the bottom of the 10th, but with runners on second and third and two outs.

was at the plate, which from 2019-22 not only would have been the optimal situation for the White Sox, but a situation they tried to arrange. In this instance, Anderson struck out swinging on five pitches after jumping ahead at 2-0 against left-handed reliever JoJo Romero.

It has been that sort of dismal first half for the White Sox shortstop, who enters Atlanta this weekend with a .223/.259/.263 slash line over 290 plate appearances and 67 games. Anderson has nine doubles and one triple, but he has not hit a home run since July 15 at Target Field.

These struggles had been a source of frustration for the two-time All-Star, who had a .318 average, 51 homers and 85 doubles from 2019-22. But in a talk with prior to the All-Star break, Anderson explained an understanding of the struggles and a focus to fight back.

“I’ve have been working. I have been hitting, hitting a ton,” Anderson said. “It’s just part of the process. It’s going to help me in the future. We can’t see it yet, but it’s something that everybody has their turn of going through something.

“I just have been through a lot. Keep grinding it out and keep working. Just understanding and believing. Keep going out there every day and keep competing.”

Similar struggles plagued Anderson in 2018, when he finished with a slash line of .241/.280/.406, although he hit 20 homers with 28 doubles. In ’19, Anderson bounced back to lead MLB with a .335 average. He produced an OPS above .800 from 2019-21.

Injuries have played a part in each of Anderson’s past two campaigns, with his 2022 season ending on Aug. 6 due to a sagittal tear band on the middle finger of his left hand that required surgery. He has dealt with a sprained left knee and a sore right shoulder in ’23, but added his body feels good and he feels back to himself.

There are no excuses from Anderson, but instead an acceptance with a desire to quickly improve.

“No, it’s going how it’s supposed to, how it was written out,” Anderson said. “I’ve done everything, all the work, to try to change it. Just keep grinding, keep hustling. Just keep having faith, keep believing.

“I’ve been here before, so I think it’s just keep working. And just a moment to realize what’s really going on and understand at the end of the day, it’s all a learning process. I’m sold out to the process. One thing is I won’t quit. I’ll just keep grinding out, keep hustling and know that all this is going to make me better at the end of the day. Just embrace it.”

Confidence is not an issue for the 30-year-old, as he still believes in his immense ability.

“For sure. I still believe I’m one of the best to ever do it,” Anderson said. “That’s just the mentality I always have. That way you never feel defeated. I know I got every tool in the box plus one. This spot ain’t doing anything but sharpening all my other tools. It's just a moment for me to keep going. It’s cool. I’m going to keep working for sure.”

“Throughout his career, you get used to the .320, .330 every year,” White Sox second baseman Elvis Andrus said. “But it’s part of the game. He’s a human, too, and he’s learning. He’s probably very disappointed, but I still believe in him. He’s going to regroup [during the All-Star break], use it and recharge for the second half.”

The White Sox have a $14 million club option (with a $1 million buyout) on Anderson for 2024 His struggles have reduced his trade value in the present, but the White Sox are decidedly better when Anderson is on target offensively. Fortunes could change quickly and return Anderson to be the team’s driving force.

“That’s what I’m saying. I can always change the narrative,” Anderson said. “I can hit one home run and change the total story. I’m always in control of that narrative. The biggest thing is to worry about myself and what I can control and worry about the people around me who love me and compete every day.”