The saying “defense wins championships” is generally a phrase left for the fans of the gridiron. The punishing hits and the game-changing interceptions are all things that can change the entire outcome of the game. While overlooked to a degree in baseball, defense is an integral part of today’s game. This year, a few surprises on defense have made the entire White Sox team better overall defensively.
This year’s biggest surprise is none other than shortstop Alexei Ramirez. If you have watched any Sox games during the past week, you can hear Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone raving about the plays he has made this year and the overall improvement on defense from one year to the next. This year, he leads the White Sox with an 8.6 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), while another surprise defensive player, Juan Pierre, rates in at a 7.7 UZR.
No player can just jump this drastically in defensive skill in the matter of one offseason solely by himself. That is where 43-year-old and 11-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel steps into the picture. Vizquel’s mentoring of the young shortstop has been shown time and time again on the field this season.
While some fans only want to see the long ball and grab a few cold ones, others (like myself) also enjoy seeing a slick defensive play and showing the passion to win day in and day out. Sometimes, errors will come back and haunt you; other times, they will not. But with great defense, that percentage of errors decreases dramatically.
The extra hustle on defense is the most appealing aspect about the team this year. The effort to try and make the Web Gem-type play by one player only feeds the drive in his teammates to do the same. The extra emotion, such as a fist pump, after each great play is good for team chemistry as well.
Hopefully this year, the phrase “defense wins championships” holds true for the Chicago White Sox. They have that part down.
Coming up next time: “Trade Deadline Talk”
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