Good teams have multiple leaders, so the White Sox are in pretty good shape on that front.
In his seventh season, Jose Abreu has long been the classic “good things come to those who put the work in” example.
Newcomer Dallas Keuchel brings a winning attitude to the Sox, and the veteran starting pitcher just showed it comes with an edge when he called out his teammates Monday night following an uninspired performance.
Lucas Giolito is a rising voice in the White Sox’s clubhouse, and it’s probably impossible to find a catching duo with better leadership qualities than Yasmani Grandal and James McCann.
Then, there’s Tim Anderson.
“We’ve talked about him enough where you just have to allow an understanding of the experience of what he’s gone through and the things that he’s built up over the course of the last two or three years that have given him the confidence and the ability to do what he’s doing,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said.
Anderson has evolved into of the top hitters in the game, and the 27-year-old shortstop was front and center in Wednesday afternoon’s 7-5 win over the Tigers.
After leading off the game with a home run that he stood and admired before circling the bases, Anderson tripled in the third inning and singled in the fifth.
That left the defending American League batting champion two more cracks at hitting for the cycle.
He came up short, although Anderson did single again in the sixth inning before striking out in the eighth.
“It is really important for us to have T.A. back with us in the lineup,” said Luis Robert, who also sparked the White Sox to their second straight win with a 3-run double in the fifth inning. “He’s an excellent leadoff (hitter). Just the energy that he provides in the dugout, on the field, it’s important. It’s definitely a plus for us to have him back and I’m happy to have him back.”
Anderson was out for 10 days with a strained groin before rejoining the Sox on Tuesday.
Losers of five of six while scoring only 11 runs after Monday’s loss at Detroit, the White Sox have won two straight and scored 15 runs with Anderson back.
“The energizer bunny, baby,” Anderson said. “Just my presence, being in that lineup definitely made the guys go. Make the other team scared. Just being in the lineup, and you saw it (Tuesday), I didn’t do much yesterday but the guys came out and were ready to bang. We were able to get the win.”
He’s an unquestioned leader with the energy and confidence he brings, and Anderson always seems to find something to keep himself motivated.
When he was on the injured list, Robert was having some great early success batting first. There was speculation Anderson would be dropped in the order when he returned, but it didn’t happen.
Just the mention of it was enough for Anderson.
“A lot of doubters out there,” he said. “They motivated me like, ‘Who’s going to be the leadoff guy?’ You know, nothing against Luis Robert, but come on, man. Come on.”
That is a confident leader talking, but Anderson rarely becomes overly serious.
He was asked about not getting a double in his final two at-bats to become the first Sox hitter to get the cycle since Abreu in 2017.
“I don’t know, it’s a good question,” Anderson said. “I had to give a little bit to get some. I don’t know why. I don’t know. I tried, though. I definitely gave it a try.”