OAKLAND -- The numbers produced by the White Sox defense so far in 2015 are the worst of any aspect of their game.
But whether its improved play from several key guys or Friday’s addition of rookie second baseman Carlos Sanchez, the White Sox expect their output to improve.
Really, it can’t get much worse.
Through 31 games, the White Sox are second to last in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved according to fangraphs.com and they rank 27th in Defensive Efficiency, according to baseball-reference.com. A team that features 2014 Gold Glove finalists Adam Eaton and Alexei Ramirez -- who are off to bad starts -- ranks 22nd in the majors with 25 errors, but has played three to five fewer games than every team that has more.
“It hasn’t been good,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You haven’t seen it improve. But I think when you get certain guys in there at points the defense can be better. I think each guy needs to be better. There are ways to improve. From this point forward you’re looking for it to improve.”
Ventura is directly looking at Eaton and Ramirez to offer a big boost. There’s no question Sanchez can be an upgrade in the field over Micah Johnson, who is last in the majors among 24 qualified second baseman with minus-8 Defensive Runs Saved. But Eaton and Ramirez are the team’s most athletic, talented defenders and so far they’ve been at or near the bottom of the league in defensive metrics.
Ramirez expects an offense that has averaged 4.5 runs per game the last 11 contests to have as much of an impact as anything.
“I’m very confident that we are a much, much better team than we have been on defense this season,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “The thing is, sometimes when you struggle on offense, it’s hard to keep it in the offense and not (separate from) the defense. Sometimes the pressure of the game is hard to handle. But it’s baseball and we have to be able to get better and give our best every day in the field.”
Ventura agrees the offense can lift the defense, just as the defense can improve the pitching.
“When you play better at one part of the game that takes pressure off the other part,” Ventura said. “For us there was a whole lot that we needed to do better than just one aspect of it. All of it has been getting better and I think that’s what has changed the attitude.”
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When the White Sox brought Johnson to the majors over Sanchez, they knew his glove wasn’t as strong but he offers more offensive upside. But the White Sox have seen over the past few springs and last September that Sanchez brings them a nice defensive player who can shore things up.
“If he’s here it’s because he’s good,” Ramirez said. “He’s a good defender and he earned his right to be here. I think he’s a good player. He has experience and he did a good job in spring training and especially in his time in Triple-A.
“He’s a young talented player. He plays good defense and I think that’s one of the strengths of his game.”
Eaton said the club has only been strengthened by the much-needed “normality” of the past week after a rough period that included a brawl, rain, civil unrest and the flu. With a team that has committed 12 errors in the past 10 games, Ventura just wants consistency.
"(Sanchez) can cover a lot of ground,” Ventura said. “He’s got good hands at second base. Switch hitter, smart player. I think he just brings some stability right there right now.”