Double plays are one of my favorite topics. From the defense's point of view, they are godsends that can turn a dangerous situation into the end of an inning in one pitch. Like all things in baseball, there's always an element of luck. But there's a whole lot of skill, too.
As we've discussed a few times in the past, turning two has been a strength of the White Sox infield the past few years. Last year, their 10.0 DPR was again the best in baseball and the highest total since the Angels in 2009. For those unfamiliar with DPR:
DPR (double play runs): The number of runs above or below average a fielder is, based on the number 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.
They were also the best in 2013. Overall, during essentially the Alexei Ramirez-Gordon Beckham era in 2010-14, the White Sox had 25.7 DPR, far outpacing the second-place Cardinals' 17.8 DPR (in comparison, on the other end, the Padres ranked last with -27.2 DPR).
So, we're not talking about a huge number of runs - the spread between the best and worst in a single season tends to be a bit over 15 runs (or 1.5 wins) - but for an event that, on average, doesn't even occur once a game, being good is significant.
I imagine you know where this is leading. Yes, they haven't been as good in 2015, though we should also keep in mind that the White Sox are tied with the Rockies for the fewest games played at 32. The teams with the most games played have 37 and thus have had more opportunities to accumulate runs.
However, they aren't nearly as bad as one might think based on having had a really poor second baseman for the vast majority of the season. They are at 0.5 DPR, trailing the leaders at 1.7 DPR. Micah Johnson is a primary offender at -0.2 DPR and, as it's obviously a symbiotic relationship between the shortstop and second base, Ramirez is at a very poor (for him) 0.0 DPR. The White Sox overall number is being propped up by help from the primary back-up infielders.
Having Carlos Sanchez up the middle should help the White Sox close the gap to the top, as he suggested with a nice start to the key double play in the 8th last night. In limited innings at second base last season, Sanchez was worth 1.0 DPR (compare to Beckham's 2.6 DPR in almost four times the innings) and his defensive reputation supports that value. Coupled with competent back-ups in Beckham and Emilio Bonifacio, they should be back near the top at the end of the season.
Note: Statistics do not include Saturday's games.