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Anderson looking to shake struggles in '17

White Sox shortstop believes his best baseball is yet to come
MLB.com @scottmerkin

KANSAS CITY -- By Tim Anderson's own admission, the 2017 season represents one of the worst years of his life both professionally and personally.

"I'm still learning. I'm still working," said the White Sox shortstop, focusing primarily on his baseball work with this assessment. "My best years have yet to come. Just have to keep believing."

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KANSAS CITY -- By Tim Anderson's own admission, the 2017 season represents one of the worst years of his life both professionally and personally.

"I'm still learning. I'm still working," said the White Sox shortstop, focusing primarily on his baseball work with this assessment. "My best years have yet to come. Just have to keep believing."

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Anderson spoke to the media prior to Saturday's game against the Royals, a night off for the youngster with Tyler Saladino making the start at shortstop. Anderson logged six hits in his last 18 at-bats, but overall, he has a .243 average with a .266 on-base percentage and a .365 slugging percentage.

Those numbers represent a downturn from his rookie campaign of '16, when Anderson hit .283 with 37 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases over 99 games. He had an offensive bWAR of 2.1 in '16, which has dropped to 0.1 in '17.

His defensive bWAR was 1.2 in '16 and -0.1 in '17, with Anderson leading the Majors at 22 errors. White Sox manager Rick Renteria spoke on Friday of being creative with the lineup over the weekend in Kansas City, needing to find playing time for Yolmer Sanchez, Saladino and Alen Hanson with Yoan Moncada's arrival and everyday presence at second base.

But a mental health night or brief break from the action certainly won't hurt Anderson, who admitted on Saturday to losing focus at times as he deals with this year's struggles.

"Yeah, definitely," Anderson said. "It's easy to lose focus when you are not doing good. It's something I have to keep grinding through. The game won't stop for nobody. I have to keep playing.

"At every level, I really haven't had tough times like this. I feel like it's definitely teaching me and I'm learning who I am."

The tragic shooting death of Branden Moss, Anderson's close friend, is something Anderson has dealt with and processed since early May. It's a tough moment for any 24-year-old, not to mention one whose job puts him in the spotlight on a daily basis.

Although Anderson is not part of the young core acquired by general manager Rick Hahn during the rebuild onset, he certainly isn't a veteran. So Anderson's strong rookie season doesn't mean these sorts of struggles wouldn't arrive at some point.

But even in the tough times, Anderson remains confident.

"I've been getting exposed this year," Anderson said in regard to how pitchers are attacking him. "But my best years have yet to come. So I have to keep working and just keep going, keep playing.

"It has been an up and down season, and I've learned a lot. Just from a maturity level and just on the field. I still have to keep working and keep having fun with it."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Tim Anderson