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  1. It’s about time somebody noticed.

    Alexei led the league in Defensive Runs Saved last time I checked at +21.

    This whole transformation started when Teahen got hurt and Vizquel took over at 3B. Before that, Alexei looked very similar to what he was in 2009. Vizquel, being a Spanish speaker and a veteran who could teach a young player a thing or two might have really helped Ramirez gain focus. I rarely see him screw up routine plays anymore. He no longer makes lollipop throws to first and in my mind he’s become the most reliable fielder on the team. While last year, I was nervous as hell when he fielded the last ball in Buehrle’s perfect game. The improvement has been amazing and it’s good to see somebody like Ramirez overcome the mental hurdles and truly utilize his talents.

    Comment by BaconSlayer09 — July 28, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

  2. Alexeiiii………….

    YES! YES! YES! YES!

    He’s certainly help put what some considered to be a disappointing follow up to the promising ’08 debut in the rear-view mirror. Do you recall the days/innings where he made these plays? Would be interested to see on MLB.com.

    Comment by Big Oil — July 28, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

  3. Watch the second game they played in Seattle. He and Vizquel put on a clinic in that game (especially Alexei).

    Comment by BaconSlayer09 — July 28, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

  4. I also think cases like Ramirez, where fans can see a drastic improvement in his fielding while seeing the numbers improvements as well, can really sway public opinion towards accepting defensive metrics like UZR and DRS. Just yesterday, Steve Stone of all people, somebody who has gone on record to reject sabermetrics outright, brought up that Ramirez was leading baseball in DRS.

    That’s the first time I’ve ever heard Steve Stone use a sabermetric stat of any kind.

    Comment by BaconSlayer09 — July 28, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  5. Hmm. He’s been pretty good. More valuable than Konerko? Maybe. Konerko has always been average in uzr and this year he is -6. That and the position adjustment make him less valuable per WAR, but Konerko’s bat has been well above average, witha 146 wRC and Ramirez at 96. If konerko’s uzr is a slight blip one way and Ramirez’s the other, it would balance out. Chisox may have been too far gone without Konerko’s bat carrying them when they were scuffling.

    Comment by wobatus — July 28, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  6. Credit Ozzie. When Ramirez moved over to shortstop, Guillen mentioned that Ramirez has the tools to be a better defensive shortstop than he ever was. I, along with a lot of other people, scoffed at that notion. It appears that having mentors like Ozzie Guillen and Omar Vizquel has really helped out Ramirez.

    Comment by rmlumley — July 28, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

  7. Yep, I was one of those people; I thought that when they brought up Beckham, maybe they should have put him at short and Alexei back at second. But I think Vizquel, especially, has been a great mentor for him.

    Comment by KG — July 28, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  8. DRS has him at a sick 21
    His 10 UZR is mostly coming from his 8.4 RngR, which is nice to see. I almost want to compare those occasional amazing plays to the way some people talk about Cano’s range, even though RngR doesn’t doesn’t necessarily consider Cano’s range all that good…

    Comment by dougbies — July 28, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

  9. Agreed… Ramirez has been good lately (the anti-Fukudome), but Konerko has been consistent and clutch all year. I don’t care what Konerko’s statistical value is. It’s going to suck when he’s shown the door in favor of the Viciedo/Flowers experiment.

    Which leads me to the ridiculous nature of the Adam Dunn to the White Sox rumors… the last thing the Sox is a DH/1B. If anything, they need some corner OF defense/offense… Jayson Werth would seem to be much more logical, but is never mentioned. Quentin should be DH until he’s 100% healthy (which is likely never going to happen).

    Comment by James — July 28, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  10. dave cameron,

    this is the alexei ramirez play you must be talking about.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTJo8TGYFVA

    Comment by dave — July 28, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  11. I like the idea of Luke Scott.

    Comment by BaconSlayer09 — July 28, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

  12. That play was nuts.

    Alexei has always had the ability to make spectacular plays. This year he is making a lot less errors on the everyday plays.

    Vizquel is like clockwork on his throws – regardless of situation, every single throw comes off at nearly the same arc and speed. He knows his arm and never tries to overthrow or underthrow. The Alexei of old had a different approach on every ball. I think Vizquel’s consistent approach is rubbing off on him and he is seeing results.

    Comment by Steve — July 28, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

  13. It looked in the first inning today that this article jinxed him. He made a horrible throw that cost the Sox a couple runs.

    But he made maybe the best play yet in the 3rd inning today.

    Comment by PG — July 28, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

  14. Ozzie was asked about that. He said the only man responsible for Ramirez’s improvement is Joey Cora. Ozzie may be prone to exaggeration, he may like to lie to the press and he may be pushing his buddy for a manager’s job but infield defense is one of Cora’s responsibilities on the staff and Joey’s been working with him since he got here.

    At the game now. That play in the third was sick. I think it was Smoak or Branyan running but I still didn’t think there was any way to throw him out. Alexei got him easily.

    Comment by MikeS — July 28, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

  15. Yeah, everyone might want to check the highlights from tonight’s game.

    Comment by dickey simpkins — July 28, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

  16. Alexei’s finally playing like he gives a damn, I think Vizquel could have a lot to do with that.

    Comment by Matt — July 28, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

  17. funny how everyone thinks it’s vizquel that has something to do with alexei playing better when it was ozzie himself who said it was all joey cora’s doing.

    Comment by airlifting — July 29, 2010 @ 12:26 am

  18. alexei’s other great play

    http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=10370475

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTJo8TGYFVA

    Comment by dave — July 29, 2010 @ 12:44 am

  19. I really have been amazed at the turnaround Alexi has made defensively. I’ve been one of his toughest critics, citing his defensive lapses as a reason why I didn’t think the Sox would be able to outlast that evil team from Minnesota. But I’m so extremely happy to say I was dead wrong about Alexi’s defense. The mental lapses have not been taking place this year and he’s making the routine plays which he wasn’t a year ago. Alexi’s defensive emergence along with the absence of the world’s most expensive 5th infielder is one of the biggest reasons for the Sox turnaround. For the first time in a long time, the Sox have an infield defense I feel confident in.

    Comment by Sox27 — July 29, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  20. Alexei’s turnaround actually happened at the mid point of last season. Defensively he was Top 5 from that point after some of the mental breakdowns folks conplained about earlier in the season. He has crazy range. If he could learn to hit in April (has to be mental) he could turn his fame to national as others marvel at a good all around game.

    Comment by Terry — July 29, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

  21. Alexei started off VERY slowly this year. We’ve had the discussion before that when a player starts off slowly, then has hot streaks later (normalizes), it often goes undetected.

    [1] Alexie has actually, and sur[prisinginly lowered his walk rate from 8% to 4%. Ozzie (3.4% Walk rate for his career) must be thinking "Atta boy".

    [2] ARam last year was worth 2.3 WAR and this year already at 2.7WAR. Why?

    [3] His offense is up across the board (except walks of course), better BA (BABIP 10 pts above career), better SLG (2B’s and HR’s), but the BIG difference is fielding.

    [4] 2009 he was +3 runs fielding, this year he’s +10 runs (2008 = -10 runs). How much of this is SSS and how much is due to having a better defender playing 3B (Vizquel) next to him?

    [5] His WAR is way up due to defensive value (1.0 WAR) and change in replacement level.

    In Chicago, Alexei has always been rather recognized, and his ability/talent has been a focus of Ozzie. AR10 is extremely athletic (and I don’t use that as some coded knock on his work ethic), but I am skeptical of the fielding runs jump.

    I’m glad to see his offense metrics jump up because his “power and speed” combo, given his size, and his position, could be where his most value is.

    Again, the defensive value concerns me (the accuracy). Last year the talk was about returning Beckham to his original position (SS) and having Ramirez play 2B. Now, Ramirez is a good defensive SS. It could be accurate, I’d just like to see it for multiple years. -10, 3, 10 could be variance, or could be improvement.

    When i see plays like Alexei versus SEA or Jeter’s jump throw, my first reaction is “Who the Hell was running to 1st?” followed by “Were they running hard out of the box?”. I’m more amazed that somebody actually got thrown out on those plays, than I am that a fielder actually made that play.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 29, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  22. Joey Cora and Jose Oquendo seem to have a similar reputation and future. Both are noted for their nack at helping players with defense, and both seem to be on the list of “future managers”.

    I’m guessing Joey Cora also speaks Spanish. *grin*

    My guess is Ramirez has been hearing “defense, defense, defense” from Vizquel and Cora (and getting little positioning and mechanics reinforcers consistently).

    I would love to see Ramirez be a serious value at SS, and Beckham to return as solid player in 2011. With Rios in center, that goes a long way to being “strong up the middle”. It would be atough trio for other teams to try and match in value.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 29, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

  23. The question you ask in your last paragraph is a very interesting one. Is it one that could be answered statistically? I don’t have much experience with e.g. UZR data but could plays in “difficult zones” be linked with (for the sake of argument) the batter’s proclivity for GIDP (or some other estimate of speed)? Does Brooks Robinson make the great plays if it isn’t Johnny Bench running to first? Does Alexei make them if it’s Ichiro running? They’re still great plays but they may not be great outs.

    Comment by SweetLouForHOF — July 30, 2010 @ 11:07 am

  24. I’m a Cardinal fan … hence, I have to watch both Yadi Molina and Albert Pujols run to 1st base. I’m still waiting for Molina to make a 7-3 (thrown out from LF) out.

    Seriously, you watch the Jeter jump throw and this Alexei play and they take a loooong time to complete. They’re good playts getting to the balls, but those shouldn’t be outs.

    The plays that I value as a coach, bsides the obvious, are ranging plays made by IF’s with a runner on second. Even if they don’t get an out, just the fact that they got to the ball, knocked it down, or whatever prevented the runner from rounding third and scoring. I coach that point all season long.

    IF’s getting balls like that may save a base here and there, but the only way they get a guy out is if he’s a “piano mover” or “plowhorse”.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 30, 2010 @ 3:50 pm

  25. Franklin Gutierrez isn’t exactly slow…..

    Comment by Pg — March 16, 2011 @ 11:42 am

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