Tim Anderson hit his first major league home run on Tuesday night at Fenway Park, and it was the most Andersonish way he could collect it: on the very first pitch of the game.
He got all of it, as Statcast shows an exit velocity of 107 mph and a distance of 426 feet. The video looks the part:
Anderson is hitting .292/.292/.479 with 14 strikeouts in 49 plate appearances. He’s yet another new White Sox to take his time drawing his first walk, seeing only three three-ball counts. He’s not getting any closer, as he’s only seen one two-ball count over his last 15 plate appearances.
Considering Anderson failed to draw a walk all April in Charlotte, nobody is particularly surprised. And considering he has six extra-base hits and a stolen base while committing no errors in the field, he hasn’t yet compounded the most known flaw with any other weaknesses. It’s hard for White Sox fans to heavily scrutinize sources of fun, even if the leadoff spot isn’t the most efficient place for it.
One thing I’m watching: This is the second time Anderson has swung at the first pitch of the game, and the third time he’s swung at the first strike. Adam Eaton isn’t a complete stranger to that strategy, but Anderson has done it with more regularity, and he poses more of an extra-base hit threat from there.
Todd Frazier joined Anderson in the homer department with an impressive solo shot of his own. While his 20th homer helped him raise his average to .200, his night made his offensive line more extreme than it already was.
I’d still call him slumping — he hasn’t had a multi-hit game in nearly a month, and Tuesday was his 10th multi-strikeout game of June — but while he’s 10-for-86 during this rut, six of those hits have left the yard. He’s also drawn 13 walks, boosting his walk rate to a career-high-by-far 12.2 percent.
He’s tied with Mark Trumbo for the league lead in homers, which is great. Not so great -- Frazier, who hit 43 doubles for the Reds last season, only has five for the White Sox this season through 71 games.
If you extrapolate this season's numbers over 162 games, you get two season lines look nothing like each other:
- 2015: 35 homers, 43 doubles, 44 walks
- 2016: 45 homers, 11 doubles, 82 walks
This has to normalize a little bit, because the only guys who put up that kind of line are plodders. Harmon Killebrew, who went 49-11 for the Twins in 1964. Dave Kingman, who went 37-9 for the Mets in 1982. Frank Thomas, who went 39-11 with Oakland at age 38 with failing feet and ankles.
Frazier doesn’t have those excuses, because he’s also on pace to steal 11 bases. If this keeps up, though, we might have to change his first name to "TTOdd."
Then there’s Jason Coats, who is defying the White Sox stereotype in a way that’s almost art.
Fact: His on-base percentage is 294 points higher than his batting average.
Fact: His on-base percentage is .294.
He’s still in search of his first MLB hit nearly three weeks into his career, but he wasted no time walking. He drew one in his first trip to the plate, and has since added three more over his 18 plate appearances. He’s also been plunked by a pitch, so he’s reached base five times without the assist of a hit.
Best I can tell using Play Index, this is unprecedented territory for a White Sox player. The closest anybody comes is Guy Curtright, who drew three walks -- and possibly a fourth -- before his first hit. However, he still picked up that hit within his first 10 at-bats.
Curtright ended up with a .382 OBP over 572 plate appearances in his rookie year. He saw so much action as a 30-year-old rookie because other ballplayers were seeing a different kind of action in World War II. I don’t think Coats will get the chance to build up that kind of sample size due to similar circumstances, though I suppose it is possible.