CHICAGO -- Tim Andersonis the face of the White Sox franchise.
That unofficial designation should not be taken lightly considering the plethora of energetic and likeable high-end talent playing for this team on the rise. It’s also a role the shortstop hasn’t exactly asked for, even pausing momentarily to find the right words when questioned about the topic during a recent interview with MLB.com.
“I don’t know. I’m just being myself,” Anderson said. “If that’s what comes with it, then I’m cool with it. But I’m not a guy that just like, that I want to be the face of the franchise. I just happen to do me and if that’s what happens -- or just have the personality or just have it in me -- and if that’s what comes with it, that’s cool.
“I’m OK with that. Yeah, that’s fine. That’s OK. But it doesn’t change nothing. It doesn’t change the way I play or think. It doesn’t blow my head up, definitely. If that’s what it is, then cool. I’m OK with it, but I just don’t see myself as that one guy on the team.”
Anderson proceeded to list off Eloy Jiménez, José Abreu, Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and Edwin Encarnación as other nominees for this representation. That list doesn’t even include Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal or Yoán Moncada, to name a few.
“We’ve got some big names and guys want to show up and prove themselves,” Anderson said. “So it’s not just me.”
But let’s be honest: Anderson being Anderson -- with his engaging, entertaining and direct personality -- makes him a natural fit.
There was Anderson giving the ESPN broadcast crew a playful dig about sort of forgetting about the South Siders but now paying attention again during an in-game interview from Sunday night’s broadcast of an exhibition game with the Cubs. It was Anderson putting forth funny running commentary when NBC Sports Chicago had a microphone on him in Monday’s home exhibition against the Cubs.
The 27-year-old is a happily married father of two young daughters, and he is dedicated to standing front and center in the community through his Anderson’s League of Leaders foundation. But he’s also a tireless worker entering a fifth big league campaign with an American League batting title on his resume after hitting .335 to lead the Majors in 2019.
“I’ve kind of stamped myself. People know who I am and know what I stand for,” Anderson said. “They know what type of man I am. They know what I represent and how basically I’m coming. I just try to leave a big image with people and let them know what I stand for and I work hard. I don’t talk much when it comes to motivation. I just do it.
“Guys follow the way as far as how we work and certain people feel the energy. I still always talk, but people know. People know I’ve arrived, and I think we are at a turning point right now. People are recognizing that. People are giving me the props and recognizing what I’m trying to do here and what kind of player I am and realizing, 'This kid is actually good.'”
During Summer Camp intrasquad games, Anderson went deep four times and included his signature pronounced bat flip after one connection off of reliever Evan Marshall. Those who think being safely socially distanced will curtail Anderson’s enthusiasm haven’t been paying attention.
“He’s definitely misunderstood,” Keuchel said of Anderson. “When you play against him, you kind of want to fight him all the time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You see the passion he plays with, and you see how much he loves the game. So I’m right there with him. I love it. It definitely gets under your skin, which can help him.
“Now I see where he’s at, his mindset. The way he’s trying to be more knowledgeable about the game, about his at-bats. That’s where you get the true professional. You put the talent with the mindset and with the knowledge to get better, and you’re sitting pretty. You’re sitting with a batting title. You’re sitting with respect around the league, and he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with and someone who some of these younger guys can learn from.”
Don’t let Anderson’s fun overshadow his tireless work. There might be people who still doubt him after what he’s accomplished, much as some will doubt the White Sox ability to make that jump from rebuild to contention this season. But they don’t really know what Anderson is all about.
“All the White Sox fans know. The South Side knows me,” Anderson said. “We all have haters. But it’s motivation to continue to prove people wrong. I’ll just continue to prove people wrong and continue to get better.”