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What a Month for the White Sox

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August 07, 2015

The White Sox started the month of July seven games out of a playoff spot, but a surprising run led to many of their fans clamoring for the team to be buyers—not sellers—at the non-waiver trade deadline. The Sox went 16-10 in July, the third-best record in the majors in the month, behind only the Yankees (17-7) and the Pirates (17-9).

Their successful stretch seemed to have come out of nowhere considering how they performed over the season’s first three months. Breaking it down further, we’ll take a look at the White Sox’s offensive and defensive improvements.

Largest OPS Improvements (April-June vs. July)
April-June July
Team OPS Rank OPS Rank OPS Difference
White Sox .649 30 .757 9 .108
Mariners .666 27 .771 6 .105
Angels .686 22 .789 4 .103
Phillies .651 29 .743 10 .091
Brewers .674 25 .761 8 .087

The White Sox were the worst hitting team in baseball through June with both the lowest OPS and the lowest total of runs scored in baseball. They then ranked ninth-best in OPS for the month of July. They improved by 108 points on their April-June OPS, the biggest increase in MLB. More than half of their lineup had "hot streaks" that lasted the course of the month—including Melky Cabrera (1.024 OPS), Adam Eaton (.957), Jose Abreu (.891), Carlos Sanchez (.828), and Alexei Ramirez (.811)—and have continued into the first week of August.

Defensively, the ChiSox improvement was even more dramatic. They started July as the second-worst defensive team in baseball with a defense that cost them 48 runs. Only the Phillies were worse with -63 Defensive Runs Saved. In July they were the absolute best defensive team in baseball (27 DRS), by a wide margin.

Most Defensive Runs Saved in July
April-June July
Team DRS Rank DRS Rank
White Sox -48 29 27 1
Padres -22 27 19 2
Marlins 15 7 13 3
Pirates 0 17 12 4
Nationals -20 25 12 5

Catcher Tyler Flowers led all of baseball with eight Runs Saved in July, much of that credit coming from his pitch framing skills. He leads all catchers this season with 11 Strike Zone Runs Saved, and has earned 93 more strike calls than an average catcher. Alexei Ramirez also had a breakout July, as he led baseball with 22 Good Fielding Plays, 9 more than the next-highest shortstop. Though he started the month having cost the White Sox an estimated seven runs, Ramirez saved five runs in July to improve his season total.

While the White Sox currently sit five games back of the AL’s second wild card spot, they hope to ride their offensive and defensive hot streaks from July into the season’s dog days and down the stretch run.

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