Leading the American League Central through Sunday, the Chicago White Sox are well on their way to the club's first postseason berth since 2008 and could be a trendy World Series pick come the end of September.
While Chicago's 23-year-old outfield phenoms Eloy Jimenez (11 HR, .864 OPS) and Luis Robert (11 HR, .886 OPS, 6 steals) have gotten much of the attention as Rookie of the Year contenders the past two seasons, it's shortstop Tim Anderson who should be getting more national press.
The 2019 AL batting champion leads the league in hitting (.351) again and has made further strides at the plate this year. His walk rate (5.9%) is more than double what it was last season and his strikeout rate has improved as well.
These young White Sox should be competitors for years to come, but this October is a prime opportunity for the 27-year-old Anderson to introduce himself to the uninitiated.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson won the AL batting title in 2019. (Photo: Jay Biggerstaff, USA TODAY Sports)
Here's how USA TODAY Sports' seven-person panel voted this week:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (–)
- Not surprisingly, Dodgers are MLB's first team to 30 wins.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (–)
- Offense could use a boost from recently-promoted Nate Lowe.
3. Oakland Athletics (–)
- Sean Manaea's last four starts: 2.21 ERA, 17 strikeouts, two walks.
4. Minnesota Twins (+7)
- Josh Donaldson back in action after a month on the IL.
5. Cleveland Indians (-1)
- Shane Bieber becomes fourth player to start a season with nine straight eight-plus strikeout games.
6. Chicago White Sox (+2)
- Rookie Nick Madrigal went 11-for-26 in first seven games back from injury.
7. San Diego Padres (-1)
- Jake Cronenworth is the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.
8. Chicago Cubs (-1)
- An Ian Happ MVP candidacy is not something we expected.
9. Atlanta Braves (+1)
- If Cole Hamels makes it back in coming weeks, the left-hander could be Atlanta's secret weapon.
10. New York Yankees (-5)
- Gerrit Cole's last three starts: 0-3, 5.63 ERA in 16 innings.
11. Houston Astros (-2)
- Lance McCullers Jr. to the injured list with neck nerve irritation.
12. Philadelphia Phillies (+1)
- Nector Neris trending in the right direction heading into season's final weeks.
13. Toronto Blue Jays (-1)
- 10 of the team's final 20 games are against Yankees.
14. St. Louis Cardinals (+1)
- Giovanny Gallegos has emerged as Mike Shildt's top ninth-inning option.
15. Colorado Rockies (-1)
- Raimel Tapia hit .315 with a .415 OBP in first 14 games batting leadoff.
16. Miami Marlins (–)
- Starter Sandy Alcantara, an All-Star last year, returning to form after COVID layoff.
17. New York Mets (+1)
- In three starts since joining rotation, Seth Lugo has 20 strikeouts in 11⅔ innings.
18. Milwaukee Brewers (+3)
- Reliever Devin Williams has 35 strikeouts in 17 innings.
19. San Francisco Giants (+1)
- Got the better of Madison Bumgarner in his first start against former team.
20. Cincinnati Reds (-1)
- Eugenio Suarez heating up: nine homers, 20 RBI, 1.270 OPS from Aug. 23-Sept. 5.
21. Baltimore Orioles (+1)
- With win Saturday, Orioles snapped Yankees' 18-game winning streak at Camden Yards.
22. Detroit Tigers (-5)
- Will prospect Matt Manning get a chance to contribute down the stretch?
23. Seattle Mariners (+4)
- Justin Dunn (acquired in Robinson Cano trade) looks like a long-term rotation fixture
24. Washington Nationals (-1)
- Time is running out for Washington mount a turnaround.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (-1)
- Landed pitchers Caleb Smith and Humberto Mejia in Starling Marte trade with Miami.
26. Los Angeles Angels (+2)
- Franklin Barreto playing every day since coming over in Tommy La Stella trade.
27. Kansas City Royals (+2)
- Greg Holland (2.66 ERA in 21 games) thriving in return to Kansas City.
28. Boston Red Sox (+1)
- Backup catcher Kevin Plawecki proving himself a useful player.
29. Texas Rangers (-3)
- Missed an opportunity to deal Lance Lynn at the peak of his value.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates (–)
- Ke'Bryan Hayes starts his career 5-for-15 with three extra-base hits.
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