CHICAGO -- White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson already had a batting title, a Silver Slugger Award and unending charisma and passion on his impressive resume before being named the cover star for the 2021 installment of the R.B.I. Baseball video game series, as unveiled on Thursday.
It seems only fitting the face of one of the most exciting franchises in Major League Baseball, whose celebratory bat flips inspired the team’s "Change the Game" marketing campaign, becomes the first White Sox player to earn this cover honor.
“Definitely history. Just continue to try to make history and continue to leave that big mark,” Anderson said during a Thursday evening Zoom. “That’s something I’ve always been working on, to finally be able to get to this point and continue to prove people wrong and continue to show them why I want to be great.
“I definitely was excited, to be on the front and be the example for the cover of the game, also lead as I always do and always try to do, lead by example and be the best example that I can to the youth. The feedback has been great. Everybody’s happy. My family is happy about it. And everybody in my circle was really pleased with it. I couldn’t be more happy and excited about it.”
Anderson joins a list of R.B.I. cover stars including Christian Yelich in 2020, Alex Bregman in ’19, Francisco Lindor in ’18, Corey Seager in ’17, Mookie Betts in ’16 and Anthony Rizzo from the crosstown Cubs in ’15. The 27-year-old Anderson was the team’s top pick in the 2013 Draft and has transformed from a quiet young player with immense talent to one of baseball’s more recognized and relatable figures who has refined his skills through countless hours of work.
After his .335 batting average stood No. 1 overall in 2019, Anderson silenced any ongoing doubters by hitting .322 with 10 homers, an AL-leading 45 runs scored and a career-high .886 OPS this past season. The White Sox reached the postseason for the first time since ’08, losing in three games to the A’s during the Wild Card Series, but with Anderson finishing 9-for-14 in his playoff debut.
The ’21 White Sox not only are considered an AL Central favorite but one of the top contenders to win it all. And Anderson’s cover recognition shows people are paying attention to him but also his team.
“All the work is showing and how hard we worked behind the scenes and not just what you guys see,” Anderson said. “I’m definitely happy with the position that we are in. We are in the right spot where we need to be.”
R.B.I. 21 will be available this March on PlayStation 4, the Xbox family of devices, Nintendo Switch, PC and supported mobile devices, but you can preorder it now. Those who preorder the game online at Target or Walmart will receive a free Topps Foil card featuring Anderson (while supplies last).
Fans will have more control than ever this year, with a new create-a-player mode and increased customization options, ranging from batting controls to camera angles. And, for the first time, the game will feature play-by-play commentary and have individual Statcast data for pitchers.
As for a special bat flip button within the game following home runs, Anderson laughed and said it should be automatic once a player connects. Anderson played last year’s version of R.B.I. Baseball and has become more of a video gamer after purchasing a PlayStation 5 recently.
Being on the cover allows people to see Anderson’s face and maybe get interested in learning about him. It also furthers Anderson’s goal of bringing more fun to the game.
“That’s definitely a first step there,” Anderson said. “The biggest part is more so just continue to be me and not really trying to push for everybody. I’ve got to this point just from continuing to be myself and always speaking my mind. I’m just going to continue to be that way and see where it takes me.
“It’s just exciting to be on the cover of it. I don’t know too many guys that have ever been on the front of a cover. For me to be on there is definitely an honor. I’m forever thankful for that. Hopefully, people are excited about it as well. Hopefully, everybody can get a copy and have fun with it.”