The 2020 Silver Slugger Awards were announced on Thursday night, and the White Sox accounted for a third of the American League lineup. José Abreu picked up his third Silver Slugger for his work at first base, while Tim Anderson and Eloy Jiménez each won their first at shortstop and left field, respectively.
The hiring of Tony La Russa is still novel enough to hover over the proceedings, however. It probably doesn’t help that he’s still a stranger to the White Sox’s biggest star.
Anderson, along with Jiménez, participated in a Zoom conference call ostensibly in relation to the latest award announcements, but most of the questions concerned the transition from Rick Renteria to La Russa. Anderson didn’t have a whole lot to specifics to report, because they haven’t yet talked.
“Um … I don’t know,” Anderson said. “I don’t know, man, I just been reading what’s been going on, and kinda learning through that way. Kinda talking to people to try to get a better understanding. But I’m looking forward to it.
“There’s a lot of news that we may not get along. Hopefully we can get along and continue to do what the ultimate goal is — to try to win a championship on the South Side. I’m just ready to pick his brain and learn the knowledge, and just try to make this as smooth as possible and just try to have fun with it.”
And after a beat:
“If he allows that.”
The laughter on all sides of the Zoom call indicated it was a joke, although Anderson insisted that he would continue to have fun on the field and won’t change his style of play, and hoped that La Russa would enjoy watching it.
Anderson acknowledged the dot-connecting that led many to wonder whether he would see eye-to-eye with his new manager, but he heard from players around the league that “I’m gonna like him. They’re saying I’m gonna love him.”
Again, the whole thing was supposed to be about the Silver Sluggers, but it did a better job of summing up the world Jerry Reinsdorf chose to create for his employees. There are numerous and credible reasons to believe this could all work out just fine, but the White Sox picked the path with the most question marks and potential personality conflicts, and there won’t be satisfactory answers for months.
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As for the reason for the season, the White Sox set a franchise record with three Silver Sluggers, and made up for lost time in the process. Abreu aside, standout seasons have been scarce around the diamond over the last decade.
White Sox had 3 players win Silver Slugger Awards in 2020— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) November 6, 2020
(Abreu, Anderson & Jiménez)
White Sox had 3 players win Silver Slugger Awards from 2009-19
(Abreu 2x, Ramírez 2x & Pierzynski)
And while these awards can often seem subjective for what feels like a pretty specific description, all three looked good for the honor.
Abreu: Led all AL first baseman in average, OBP, slugging percentage, wOBA, wRC+ and RBIs, and finished second to Luke Voit in homers, 22 to 19.
Anderson: Led all AL shortstops in average, slugging percentage, wOBA, wRC+ and runs, finished second in homers to Xander Bogaerts, 11 to 10.
Jiménez: Led all AL let fielders in homers, slugging, wRC+ and wOBA, finishing one RBI out of a tie for first with 41.
All three players led their respective positions in fWAR, and when you see them all in one press release, it’s a helpful reminder of how much position player talent the White Sox have amassed. I’d recommend pairing it with the five Gold Glove finalists at four positions, and Luis Robert’s official nod, for extra emphasis. Jiménez joked that his passivity played a part in it:
The easy part is filling in some gaps (third starter, right field, DH). The more challenging part will involve refining some of the rough edges — a troublesome strikeout-to-walk ratio here, a disappointing defender there, with a splash of confusing baserunning. The hope is that there’s enough aggression in addressing the former weaknesses to make the secondary characteristics of their best players less of a concern, because obsessing over what players can’t do can lead to unnecessary discontent.
A manager has some say in how much fans worry about weaknesses. Here’s hoping La Russa gets to know who they are sooner rather than later.
(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)