Carlos Sanchez has only had a few days to acclimate to the high level of defense teammate Alexei Ramirez has provided the White Sox.
Wowed by his soft hands, strong arm and incredible range, the White Sox rookie has only begun to comprehend just how outstanding Ramirez has been season in the field this season.
Twice this week, the second baseman watched in awe as Ramirez raced far in and to his left from short to scoop a ground ball on the other side of the bag in time to record an out at first -- a play that has nearly become routine for the seventh-year shortstop.
Not only do the numbers back him, but Ramirez’s constant display of dazzling defense this season has those inside and out the White Sox clubhouse of the belief he has played at a Gold Glove level.
Ramirez has never won a Gold Glove.
“The other day when he went from shortstop to second base, that’s unbelievable,” Sanchez said. “It was really impressive.
“I see him make a lot plays that are unbelievable. I think he’s Gold Glove for sure.”
John Danks isn’t quite as much in awe of Ramirez as Sanchez.
Actually he is, it’s just that because he has played alongside Ramirez since 2008, Danks has grown accustomed to him making spectacular plays and admits he needs to remind himself this is anything but routine.
“I’m beyond surprised,” Danks said. “You kind of get used to it. You have to remind yourself not to take it for granted. Looking at other shortstops that come in, there’s not many that compare to Alexei. What he does for us at short but also with the bat, he’s a big part of our team and saves us a lot of runs.”
Ramirez has been nothing short of spectacular this season.
With a month left in the season, Ramirez’s 10 errors are two fewer than any other American League shortstop. While the number of errors a player makes can be misleading, consider that Ramirez has made the fewest among AL shortstops even though his 584 combined putouts and assists are highest of anyone in the league.
Ramirez leads all AL shortstops with 94 double plays turned and his 119 out-of-zone plays are tops in the majors, 32 more than Milwaukee’s Jean Segura, per fangraphs.com.
Ramirez also leads the AL with a .983 fielding percentage and is second in the league in Defensive Runs Saved with two, per fangraphs.com. Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy leads the AL with seven Defensive Runs Saved, but one National League scout said Ramirez gets to far more balls and has been the better defender this season.
“It has been incredible,” first baseman Jose Abreu said through a translator. “The fielding statistics tell you a little bit of the story. But just looking at him, all his abilities, all the things he can do, fielding, hands, throwing and acrobatic plays, has been incredible.
“We play the best baseball in the world, so all the best players are here. I don’t like to compare players. But I can tell you Alexei is one of the best.”
Ramirez’s resume isn’t limited to his defensive numbers as the first-time All-Star is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career.
Ramirez came into Friday’s game with a .286/.318/.421 slash line, 13 homers, 63 RBIs and 19 steals in 548 plate appearances, which should fulfill the unofficial offensive component that seems to accompany voter’s decisions when choosing the winner.
Ramirez isn’t certain he’ll win the award because he knows the voting process is out of his control. But he said he would love to receive the honor and his strong play is as a result of comfort and experience.
“There’s no doubt about it -- that preparation and along with that I go there to have fun and talk to the players and really enjoy the moment on the field,” Ramirez said through a translator. “If that was to happen it would be incredible. It would be awesome.”
Danks said he has used so many superlatives to describe Ramirez’s defense he has run out. Ramirez has played in all but one game this season after averaging 158 the previous three. That’s something Danks said Ramirez’s teammates are well aware of -- how often he plays.
Danks only hopes Gold Glove voters have the same awareness when making their selection this offseason.
“Balls he’s getting to, plays he’s making -- that’s going back on a ball, charging a ball, it’s in the hole, up the middle -- it doesn’t matter where it’s hit. If he’s got a chance to get there, there’s a good chance he’s gonna.”
“It doesn’t go unnoticed.”