Chicago White Sox star shortstop Tim Anderson recently suffered a Grade-1 right groin strain. He initially landed on the 10-day injured list, but that designation doesn't exactly tell us how long he’ll be out. The club hopes to get him back in three weeks, but that seems to be an optimistic projection. Regardless of the length, the strain his absence puts on the White Sox is tremendous.
For most of the season, the Sox bats have looked completely lifeless. We have consistently seen lazy flyballs, double plays, and a lack of walks. The South Siders fail to string together hits to produce any runs, or hit with runners in scoring position, and have seen a significant drop in home runs. Yasmani Grandal is -- somehow -- one of the worst hitters in baseball. And much of the malaise is due to various injuries suffered by Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, AJ Pollock, and of course Eloy Jimenez.
Tim Anderson missing from the everyday lineup for an extended period of time hurts the offense in obvious ways. But here's why Anderson’s absence means even more to the team.
For years, TA7 has been the heartbeat of the team. He undoubtedly approaches every game with a fierce mentality to beat the opposing team. It’s apparent in the way he plays the game. Running the bases, at the plate, and despite a rough start at shortstop, he can throw some leather.
This is also apparent in some other things we’ve seen on the field this year. Of course, that includes the most recent dust-up with Josh Donaldson, which was a multi-affair occasion. Anderson did not back down from Donaldson‘s years of pestering despite trying to have the class to not react. He’s shown what it means to perform not on only the field but as the emotional leader of the team.
When the time came to put the Yankees away in the Sunday doubleheader, Tim delivered. After a swagger-filled trip around the bases, he told the Yankee Stadium crowd to "shut the fuck up" as New York fans were taunting him and chanting "Jackie" all game.
What Does This Mean For The White Sox?
It’s blatantly obvious that Tim Anderson is irreplaceable in the clubhouse and on the field. What he brings to the table as a teammate is an unfillable void. Someone else will need to step up offensively for the Chicago White Sox. Some of Tim’s competitiveness can be made up for a bit with the return of Lance Lynn. However, Lynn doesn't play every day. The White Sox simply need players elsewhere on the roster to elevate their game to compensate for Anderson's lost production.
We have recently seen a surge from the young right-handed slugger Andrew Vaughn. The former Golden Spikes Award winner and first-round pick has started to put together some big games. Over this stretch of games against elite competition, it will be paramount that the Sox get impactful production from Vaughn.
Jose Abreu -- the Soul of the Sox -- has begun to awaken from his early-season slumber. His production over the last seven games speaks for itself: 458/.567/.833 (1.400 OPS). Pair that output with what we’ve seen from Vaughn, and the South Siders may stay afloat through this tough stretch.
Meanwhile, Tim Anderson can tell the opposing team to quit talking to their face and tell their fans the same -- from the dugout. But on the field, the White Sox will need their sticks to send the message that Anderson so effectively delivered previously through his play and his words.