Triple-A baseball figured to pose a challenge for Tim Anderson, and expectations were met when the White Sox' top prospect failed to meet expectations in the first month of the season down in Charlotte. Craftier pitchers exploited his lack of plate discipline to an alarming degree -- over 81 plate appearances, he hit .235/.235/.272 with zero walks and 24 strikeouts.
That boundless ratio didn't exactly come out of nowhere, because Anderson walked just once over his first 109 plate appearances at Double-A in 2015. He masked that problem with better contact, then gradually improved his walk rate every month to flesh out his production. It culminated in a strong September, during which he hit .336/.397/.496 and walked 6.1 percent of the time.
This being the history, his slow start with the Knights could be shrugged away, even if his flaws were more extreme, assuming that he'd eventually get a grasp of the level in the same way.
Anderson's first Triple-A walk arrived in May, and he tacked on two more the next day. That allowed him to register a walk rate but little else, as a subsequent 2-for-20 slump knocked his line down to .222/.243/.250.
Then he gained 200 points of OPS within a week with this one weird trick (yes, that's clickbaiting, but International League pitchers do hate him).
Sunday, May 8: 0-for-2, one strikeout.
Anderson had half the day off, as Leury Garcia started what was effectively a rehab game in his return from the disabled list. He entered the game as a defensive replacement in the fifth, and did nothing of note.
End of day line: .222/.243/.250
Monday, May 9: 2-for-5, double, two strikeouts, one stolen base
Back in his routine at the top of the Charlotte order, Anderson collects a pair of hits. The double is his first extra-base hit in 12 games, and just his fourth of the season (all doubles).
End of day line: .230/.250/.265
Tuesday, May 10: 1-for-4, stolen base (Game 1); 2-for-3, walk (Game 2)
In the first game of a doubleheader against Norfolk, Anderson avoids striking out for the first time in eight games. Then he strings back-to-back strikeout-free games for the first time all season, and throws in his fourth walk for good measure.
End of day line: .242/.266/.275
Wednesday, May 11: 3-for-5, double
Anderson comes through with his second three-hit game of the year, which includes his fifth double/extra-base hit of the year. Meanwhile, he sidesteps a strikeout for the third straight game.
End of day line: .256/.279/.295
Thursday, May 12: 4-for-5 homer, walk, stolen base
Anderson leads the way in a 12-3 thrashing of Norfolk with his best game yet at Triple-A. This one has everything: His first Triple-A homer, a stolen base, no strikeouts for a fourth consecutive game, and a highlight video with the world's sleepiest broadcaster:
End of day line: .277/.304/.338
Friday, May 13: 3-for-4, homer, stolen base
Friday the 13th fails to slow Anderson down, as he strings together a third multi-hit game, homers for the second straight game and makes it five games without a strikeout. This one's his first Charlotte special:
End of day line: .291/.317/.373
Saturday, May 14: 1-for-5, homer, strikeout.
Anderson's streak of zero-strikeout games ends, but he makes it three days in a row with a home run, and again to the opposite field:
End of day line: .288/.313/.388
And within a week, everything about Anderson's offensive profile looks a little bit healthier:
- OPS: .493 to .701
- Isolated power: .028 to .100
- Walk rate: 2.7 percent to 3.4 percent
- Strikeout rate: 28.8 percent to 24.3 percent
With this kind of progress -- and with the shortstop combination of Jimmy Rollins and Tyler Saladino scuffling in Chicago -- we can start preparing for his arrival within the month, right? Let's roll it ahead one day to ratchet up the excitement one more notch...
Sunday, May 15: 0-for-6, GIDP, three strikeouts
... OK, he's still got some work to do.