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There isn’t really a silver lining for losing Tim Anderson for any stretch of time, and the stretch of time seems like it’ll be considerable when a player isn’t able to put weight on his foot leaving the field like Anderson did on Tuesday. Anderson’s season had proven the value of reps, even after the buzz from his all-world April had faded.
Regression during May (.696 OPS) reduced some of the shine from his start (1.009 OPS), but June seemed to be about stabilization. His middle ground is loamy with shortcomings — zero walks to 20 strikeouts, which limited his ability to steal bases, plus a problematic amount of errors — but the power returned, the improvement in his hit tool is hanging around, and he still makes stunning plays on the edges of his wider-than-normal range. That’s an occasionally frustrating shortstop, but also a player teams can use, rebuilding or not. The in-season resilience and better plate appearances are the result of hundreds of bad ones the previous seasons, proving the power of taking metaphorical lumps.
There isn’t much power in taking a physical lump like this, even if the White Sox have ways to cover the position. Assuming Yolmer Sánchez recovers from his illness in a timely fashion, he, Leury García and José Rondón can give the Sox adequate support at the two middle-infield positions, and Jon Jay’s return frees up García for more shortstop duty if needed. If Rick Renteria would like to resume using García as a full-time center fielder, Danny Mendick is a decent use of both a 25-man roster spot, and the 40-man one he’d also require.
I’d be a little intrigued by one last burst of regular playing time for Rondón, because his plate appearances have improved in June after a lot of non-competitive strikeouts over the first two months. He’s drawn four walks to five strikeouts over 33 plate appearances this month. It’s obscured by the lack of success (5-for-28), and perhaps the quality of contact will never come back, but there’s a little bit to be gained from giving him one last big look. I’d like to see that little bit before adding Mendick to the roster, because they cover the same positions from the same side of the plate, and they’re both potentially counterproductive uses of a 40-man roster spot next season if you don’t fully know what either player offers.
The White Sox seem likely to play a game short, then fully evaluate their options during Thursday’s off day. Alas, none of these options compare to letting Anderson play every day and better understanding his final form. It’s a little trite to say “here’s hoping,” but when one of the success stories of a lopsided rebuilding season goes down, hope has to do a disproportionate amount of lifting.