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Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson doesn't lack for confidence. Anderson has been outspoken over his career, whether he's celebrating a home run or shutting down chatter about the unwritten rules, Anderson always delivers a good quote.
Over the past two seasons, he's backed all of it up. Anderson has hit .331/.357/.514 over his last 172 games. He's won a batting title and a Silver Slugger, and is the catalyst for a White Sox team that's expected to be a perennial playoff contender over the next decade.
But Anderson may have gone too far Friday. During an interview Danny Parkins of 670 The Score, Anderson issued a challenge to the rest of the AL, calling the White Sox the "best team in the American League."
Anderson was so excited to make that statement he even dropped an f-bomb on the radio.
That's a lot of confidence from Anderson considering the White Sox snuck into the expanded playoffs as the No. 7 seed and couldn't advance past the Oakland Athletics in the first round. If the White Sox fail to make a deep postseason run in 2021, Anderson's quote could come back to bite him.
White Sox poised for another strong year
At the same time, it's not like Anderson plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The White Sox are expected to take a step forward in 2021 after acquiring Lance Lynn and signing Adam Eaton and Liam Hendriks in the offseason. On top of that, top pitching prospect Michael Kopech will return after opting out of the 2020 season. On the surface, the White Sox look stronger than they did last season.
But the roster isn't perfect. The team's pitching depth after its top-3 leaves a lot to be desired, especially if new pitching coach Ethan Katz can't get Dylan Cease or Reynaldo Lopez back on track. While Eaton has been productive in the past, he's coming off a down year, and has battled injuries. The team also has a massive hole at designated hitter, where it is hoping prospect Andrew Vaughn can eventually step in and hit like a 10-year veteran.
Those concerns are significant enough that Baseball Prospectus surprisingly projects the White Sox to win just 82.8 games in 2021 and finish third in the AL Central. Unless the White Sox make another move or two, or have a few players take big steps forward, Anderson could eat his words when October rolls around.
Yankees, Rays, Astros, Twins stand in the way
Even if the White Sox beat the projections, it's not like the AL is going to be a cakewalk in 2021. The Minnesota Twins won the AL Central in 2020 and boast an equally strong roster this season. The New York Yankees bring back a potent offense, but also went out and traded for Jameson Taillon. The Tampa Bay Rays might look worse on paper, but the team shouldn't be underestimated after reaching the World Series last year. There's also the Houston Astros, who had a down year in 2020, but are poised to bounce back in 2021.
In Anderson's defense, the White Sox have reached a point in their contention cycle where simply making the playoffs isn't a reason to celebrate. This team should have World Series aspirations. Anderson has now set a bar where anything other than a World Series appearance will be a disappointment.
It's up to the rest of the White Sox to prove him right.
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