When Tim Anderson was drafted in 2013 and as he advanced through the system, there were serious questions on whether or not he would stick at SS or not. He was just so, so raw as a baseball player, having only played his junior and senior years of HS and two years of JUCO. His athleticism was unquestionable, but there were doubts that he possessed the natural baseball instincts to handle the most important position on the field not behind the plate.
Well seasons have come and gone and his future went from “future outfielder” to “might have a chance to stick at SS’ to “he’s gonna stick at SS and he’s actually became a pretty good one”. I obviously never had the chance to see him play as he progressed through the organization, but but all accounts he is light years ahead of where he was just 2-3 years ago defensively. Now, he always had the arm for short stop. He always had the hands for short stop. He always had the lateral speed and range for short stop. He just didn’t have the baseball acumen for short stop; small things like reading a hitter’s swing to cheat up the middle or to the third base side, or being in proper position as a cutoff man… ya know, shit you can teach. And now that he’s learned that, he’s blossoming. No matter what your analytic persuasion is – the eye test (the video above) or any advanced metric you want, he’s he’s doing it all defensively right now:
Anderson drew his first career walk today. Only took 19 games and about 90 plate appearances, nbd. The LAST knock on him as a player is his plate discipline. If he can just walk a steady 7-8% of his at bats and combine that with his great bat-to-ball skills and speed, there’s no reason he can’t hit a consistent .300+ for the next decade. BUT – and this is a big but – pitchers can and will start to open up a book on him and stop giving him shit to hit in the zone. Right now they’re not really respecting him as a hitter and may not have fully scouted him, so he’s seeing a lot of pitches in the zone and he rarely misses on these pitches, which has resulted in his absurdly high .400+ BABIP. But then again his swing is so simple, his hands are so quick, and his ability to react to a pitch is all so good that he might just be one of those guys you can’t judge on trends and expect them to regress to the mean all too much. In simpler terms, he’s a really good fucking hitter, and he’s only going to get better as his career marches forward.