La Russa sees Mookie Betts in TA: 'They dance out there' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Tim Anderson was a legitimate MVP candidate last year, finishing seventh in the AL MVP vote that was won by teammate José Abreu.
Now the White Sox shortstop is getting compared to a former AL MVP: Mookie Betts.
Manager Tony La Russa — who was a part of the Boston Red Sox front office when Betts played there — described a defensive play Anderson made in Sunday's spring game, invoking Betts as someone who's impressed him in a similar way that Anderson has this spring.
"Every day, I watch everybody, and there’s a lot of guys to watch. But Tim reminds me of Mookie," La Russa said before the White Sox game Monday. "When I was two years (with the Red Sox), as much as I could, I’d watch Mookie. Just the way he moved.
"(Sunday), there was a ball off the end of the bat that had freaky spin. And that ball gets misplayed and gets by 75 percent of infielders, good (ones). The great ones do what Tim did. He found a way to get his glove on it. He was athletic enough to get over and get a hand on it and get a force play. That was my favorite defensive play of the day because that play does just not get made, only by a select few major leaguers."
Betts is a five-time consecutive Gold Glove winner, and though Anderson's confident he'll reach Gold Glove status one day, he doesn't share Betts' incredible defensive reputation just yet.
Anderson's defense has received plenty of scrutiny, even as he's evolved into a batting champion, a Silver Slugger and an MVP-type player at the plate. But while the errors haven't disappeared — after 20 or more in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Anderson made six in 49 games last season — there's little doubt about his athletic ability as a defender and his ability to make some incredible plays that others can't.
But La Russa's comparison of Anderson and Betts was about more than just the two of them being two of the elite players in baseball. It had more to do with the style with which they make plays in the field.
"Part of it is what they can do," La Russa said. "It's just their grace, their athletic skills. They flow and move. They have an athleticism that's very special.
"A lot of other great players have skills, but their movements — my daughters used to be ballet dancers. (Anderson and Betts) dance out there. They're great to watch."
It's always good to be compared to an MVP. Trust me.