Defense key to White Sox revival

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
1:47
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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Alexei Ramirez, Gordon BeckhamJason Miller/Getty ImagesThe White Sox have made just 34 errors, which is the fewest in the major leagues.
The key to the Chicago White Sox's success this year can be traced to a number of different areas, but maybe the most important aspect has been rock solid defense.

Manager Robin Ventura has watched his ballclub hold down the opposition with great glove work since Day 1 of the 2012 season.

"We can defend in most areas, so I like where we are at and what we get out of our defense," Ventura said.

The Sox have made the fewest errors in baseball with 34.

What Ventura and his staff did in spring training was return Alex Rios to his natural position in right field and install Alejandro De Aza as the center fielder. Both have played Gold Glove defense.


The outfield has made a total of four errors by the starting three in 81 games. Rios has made three, De Aza has had one miscue and Dayan Viciedo has yet to make a mistake in his first season as a left fielder.

The pitching staff anchored by veteran Jake Peavy has benefited the most from the defense.

"When you watch how well all of the outfielders have played and improved at their positions it makes the pitchers' jobs a lot easier," Peavy said. "The infield has always been outstanding. They fit in the mode of just getting it done -- not afraid to get dirty."

The great untold complaint by pitchers on a daily basis is the dreaded "fourth out," or a misplay by the defense that forces a pitcher to get a fourth out.

"There is no doubt about it, you have to catch the ball," Peavy said. "You just can't give teams extra outs because it is hard enough to win just getting the regular 27 outs.

"Robin has made the guys take infield all year, and that being a priority has helped get us to a different level."

The White Sox range is rated superior at shortstop , second base and center and right field according to many scouts.

"Defense directly influences the outcome of any game," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "In our case it has been a key element to our pitchers and overall team's success."

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
11 2.11 178 149
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .320
HRJ. Abreu 33
RBIJ. Abreu 99
RJ. Abreu 71
OPSJ. Abreu .983
ERAC. Sale 2.11
SOC. Sale 178