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Ramirez and Beckham best at turning two

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Once again

Beckham turning two
Beckham turning two
Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

Among the pitchers, it's easy to find bright spots. One can use WAR, ERA, strikeout rate, walk rate - really almost anything except wins and losses - to show how good more than a handful of pitchers have been.

Among the position players, one has to dig a lot deeper.  Only a couple current White Sox can even argue that they were average or better players, and a lot of their argument rests on simply quantity rather than quality.

Looking for positive things on defense in particular is arguably the hardest. Some players are just plain bad all around; others give back value with errors. There is one pretty big thing, though.

One thing I'd constantly harped on whenever the "Gordon Beckham should be cut" crowd came out is that his defense is pretty darn good. I think a lot of people came around on that point after seeing what the absence of Beckham at second base looked like when he was out injured earlier this season. Porous was certainly one word to describe it. Another few are lack of arm strength. Since he has barely played the position due to Alexei Ramirez' iron man status, it gets lost that the White Sox have two shortstops up the middle.

And no statistic illustrates this better than their success on double plays. Ramirez leads all shortstops with 2.5 DPR*, a half run better than Andrelton Simmons. Beckham is far and away the leader among second basemen with 3.2 DPR - a full run more than Jose Altuve in second place.

* Double Play Runs: The number of runs above or below average a fielder is, based on the number of double plays versus the number forces at second they get, as compared to an average fielder at that position, given the speed and location of the ball and the handedness of the batter.

Now, some of this does relate to number of opportunities. The White Sox play in a park that is friendlier to hitters and one certainly shouldn't forget the number of baserunners who reached because of errors (recorded or not). So they had a little bit more opportunity than the "average" player to turn two.

But the remarkable thing about Beckham in particular is that he doesn't even have enough innings to be considered "qualified". Altuve sits a run behind Beckham but accomplished that in almost 400 more innings (1238.2 Inn. versus 866.1 Inn.).

While not an overwhelming positive - range is by far the most important attribute of a defender - being 5.7 runs better than average (note, not replacement) is substantial.

And this isn't a one year occurrence. Since becoming a double play combination in 2010, Ramirez is at 8.4 DPR (trailing only wizard Brendan Ryan) and Beckham is at 7.0 DPR (leading baseball by more than a run); obviously, that is easily the best combination over those four seasons.