Tim Anderson

Making sense of Pedro Grifol relegating Tim Anderson to second in the batting order

Tim Anderson has batted leadoff in 51 percent of his career starts

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On Saturday, Pedro Grifol shook up the batting order, placing Andrew Benintendi in the leadoff spot and relegating Tim Anderson to second.

"I think it helps our club. I think Benny's got a high on-base (percentage). I think TA uses that side of the field really, really well. The idea is for Benny to be on base, TA to be on that side, us go first-to-third and get the big boys up with men in scoring position.

"We've hit six solo homers. We want some traffic when those homers are hit."

Anderson has hit leadoff for the White Sox in his last 299 consecutive starts. The last time Anderson didn't lead off the batting order for the Sox was Sept. 29, 2019, according to NBC Sports Chicago's Christopher Kamka.

Career-wise, Anderson has hit the leadoff spot 418 of the 815 starts he's made. That's 51 percent of his career. The second-most spots he's created in the batting order are second and seventh -- tied at 139 starts. He's batted everywhere in the lineup, except for the third spot.

Recently, however, Anderson's bat hasn't been up to par. Over the last 10 games, Anderson is hitting .186 with eight hits and a singular run scored. His on-base percentage -- vital to the leadoff spot -- is a lowly .222 over the same time span.

Benintendi is the best on-base hitter on the White Sox right now. He leads the team in on-base percentage (.336), has the second-most hits (62), second-most walks (23), and the second-most runs scored for the team (33).

Benintendi hasn't generated offense from a power standpoint. (He hit his first home run in 237 homer-less plate appearances on Friday.) But he gets on base and is a threat to steal, both of which are important traits of a leadoff hitter.

Pedro Grifol came to grips with replacing Anderson from the leadoff spot, even though he said previously he hadn't thought about it.

"Not at all. Hasn’t even crossed my mind," Grifol said on June 15 when asked if he would temporarily move Anderson off the leadoff spot.

Two days later, he pulled the trigger on moving Anderson. And Saturday, he was forced to figure out where to place Anderson in the lineup. Grifol chose the second spot in the batting order to relegate Anderson.

Batting second in the order is arguably Anderon's best statistical placement outside of the leadoff spot; it's also a spot in the batting order he's batted the most outside of leadoff. He holds a career slash line of .289/.313/.448 when batting second.

Grifol -- while moving Anderson down in the lineup -- doesn't see the move as a demotion for Anderson. He's willing to sacrifice the leadoff spot for someone else but isn't willing to move Anderson to the back of the lineup.

"I won't move him out of that spot to the back of the lineup. But I would move him to the two to create more traffic for us. I would never think about 'a demotion' for Tim Anderson after 2 1/2 months of baseball. There's no way.

"This is actually for the team. I believe this has a chance to help us."

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