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Inbox: Is Anderson the AL Central's top dog?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers fan questions
@scottmerkin
January 8, 2021

CHICAGO -- Here are the first set of White Sox inquiries for 2021. Is Tim Anderson now the best shortstop in the American League Central? -- @WhiteSoxPast Being the AL Central’s best shortstop probably doesn’t rate at the top of Anderson's to-do list, as he positioned himself as one of

CHICAGO -- Here are the first set of White Sox inquiries for 2021.

Is Tim Anderson now the best shortstop in the American League Central?
-- @WhiteSoxPast

Being the AL Central’s best shortstop probably doesn’t rate at the top of Anderson's to-do list, as he positioned himself as one of the game’s most entertaining players. There were still a few doubters after Anderson won the batting title in 2019, which he understood and embraced.

But Anderson works so diligently and really understands his approach almost as a science at this point, so he never had a doubt in sustaining All-Star numbers. If something goes wrong at the plate for Anderson -- who hit .322 with 45 runs scored in 49 games in 2020 -- he can identify the issue and adjust almost instantly.

Anderson is a great representative of the organization on and off the field. He’s the face of the White Sox franchise, but he's also becoming one of the most-followed figures in the game. A 30-30 season, in terms of home runs and stolen bases, shouldn’t be too far off for him.

Do you think there is a counter move by the Sox to help them distance themselves more from the Twins?
-- @KMarc91

White Sox fans were understandably upbeat when Cleveland traded shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-handed starter Carlos Carrasco to the Mets on Thursday, because the AL Central now features the Twins and the White Sox at the top. Cleveland still has a deep starting rotation and has José Ramírez leading the offense, so don’t write that team off quite yet, but the White Sox have talked World Series or bust this offseason. So, they are not only making moves to put themselves above the Twins and Cleveland but also the Yankees and Rays.

Who do you see as the best fit to close for the Sox? Given the options: Brad Hand, Liam Hendriks or Alex Colomé?
-- @jr_croes

Any one or some combination of those three hurlers help lengthen the White Sox bullpen and give them a proven closer to go with talented relievers already in place. Colomé had two excellent seasons with the White Sox and was especially good at home, and Hand has been a consistent late-inning presence since 2016 and adds another southpaw to the bullpen mix.

Hendriks would be my choice. He has that wipeout stuff to consistently miss bats, as the White Sox can personally attest from the end of their 2020 Wild Card Series.

[General manager] Rick Hahn started aggressively. He brought in Lance Lynn and Adam Eaton, but what about the closer position (Colomé, Hendriks, Hand, Trevor Rosenthal)? Do we still need another starter (Masahiro Tanaka, José Quintana, James Paxton, for example)? What will become of DH? Andrew Vaughn?
-- @Drianrogelio

The White Sox will add a closer, and my guess is the closer will come from the three names mentioned above, with Archie Bradley potentially in the mix. Chicago also will bring in another proven starter to complement Lucas Giolito, Lynn and Dallas Keuchel, and providing talented young starters such as Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech a chance to continue with slightly less pressure. Just as a side note, the White Sox will be one of the many teams reportedly having someone watch Corey Kluber throw next week.

Vaughn, the team’s No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, should see the bulk of work this season at designated hitter, but Chicago will try to bring in another position player who could potentially open at DH and then be used around the field when Vaughn arrives. It hasn’t exactly been a quick-moving market, so give Hahn, executive vice president Ken Williams and the front office time to continue execution of their plan.

Do you foresee a platoon situation with Adam Engel and Eaton in the righty/lefty matchup?
-- @Weoysterfighter

Eaton is being viewed as the starter. In Engel, you have a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player who shows strong against left-handed pitching and Eaton is tougher against right-handed pitching. It’s not exactly a detriment to ’21 plans if right field becomes some sort of a modified platoon.

Do the White Sox think that there is untapped power potential in Nick Madrigal? Or is he forever destined to be a slappy-OBP type guy?
-- @djcermak

Madrigal has exactly 109 plate appearances in his Major League career so characterizing him as anything is beyond premature. The second baseman's elite bat-to-ball skills make him a great fit in this lineup, and he’s very comfortable with his game.

Is Michigan a basketball school now?
-- @beckjason

Will [college football coach Jim] Harbaugh return to Michigan? Or will he go to the NFL?
-- Greg, Detroit, @G_Garno

Michigan is a basketball school under [current head coach] Juwan Howard. But Harbaugh appears as though he’s coming back, so look for National Championships from both sports in the next two years. Bookmark this answer.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.