Ostrowski: Top 5 reasons White Sox ruled in April

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • White Sox insider Joe Ostrowski says Adam Eaton is the number one reason the Sox are performing so well. He has made impacts on offense and defense -- including having plus-10 defensive runs saved so far this season.

    White Sox insider Joe Ostrowski says Adam Eaton is the number one reason the Sox are performing so well. He has made impacts on offense and defense -- including having plus-10 defensive runs saved so far this season. Associated Press

 
By Joe Ostrowski
Special to the Daily Herald

April was the White Sox's month. They finished with the most wins in the American League, even though they had to deal with the most road games in baseball.

The Sox swept the Twins, Rangers, and Blue Jays. Texas and Toronto won their divisions last year and were popular picks to get back to the playoffs and contend for a World Series.

But how did this happen? Weren't we just talking about whether or not manager Robin Ventura would lose his job?

Here are my top five reasons the White Sox jumped out on top of the AL Central:

1. Adam Eaton:

The leadoff man's offensive numbers are almost identical to his 2014 season across the board, which included a .300 average and .362 on-base percentage, netting him a 5-year contract extension.

Eaton's defense has been amazing since moving to right field. The metrics say he has been the best fielder in baseball by a wide margin.

Eaton already has plus-10 defensive runs saved after finishing with minus-14 in 2015. The Cardinals' Stephen Piscotty and Angels' Andrelton Simmons have the second most DRS with plus-7.

Eaton's ultimate zone rating is the best around at 8.1. Pittsburgh's Gregory Polanco is a distant second at 5.8.

2. Rick Hahn:

We're still dealing with a small sample size of only 25 games, but it looks like the White Sox general manager had a near perfect offseason.

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It started with saying goodbye to Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Flowers. Using the trade market and free agency, Hahn found everyday players in Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, Austin Jackson, Dioner Navarro, and Jimmy Rollins.

Frazier leads the team in home runs, has covered for a struggling Jose Abreu, and his glove has been a pleasant surprise. The Jackson signing in March has put Eaton in a position to succeed in right field. The overriding theme with these five players has been professionalism, something that lacked in 2015.

All signs point to a Mat Latos regression, but you can't argue with the production. Heading into the weekend, his 0.74 ERA was the second lowest in the majors. His batting average of balls in play is the lowest of any pitcher at .167. That will increase during the rest of the season.

3. Chris Sale:

The White Sox ace has allowed only 1 earned run in his last 24 innings. Sale has a 1.66 ERA, baseball's best WHIP 0.68, and opponent's are hitting .159 against him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

4. Jose Quintana:

The number two starter's 1.47 ERA is even lower than Sale's. Quintana's strikeout rate has increased by 6 percent, while throwing 10 percent more fastballs. Sale-Quintana provide the best 1-2 punch around and it isn't all that close.

5. Bullpen:

David Robertson, Matt Albers, and Nate Jones have given up only 2 earned runs in their first 31 appearances. The demonstrative Albers has yet to allow an opponent to cross the plate.

• Joe Ostrowski is a co-host of the "Hit & Run" baseball show from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on WSCR 670-AM The Score with Barry Rozner. Follow him on Twitter@JoeO670.

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