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Levine: White Sox Seeking Faster, Smarter Baserunning

By Bruce Levine-

(CBS) Adding more speed and a better baserunning approach has been the emphasis of the White Sox and general manager Rick Hahn during this busy offseason of change.

Like all close observers of the White Sox, Hahn had become extremely disillusioned with a group of players in 2015 that showed poor judgement and concentration on the basepaths. It became too commonplace for runners to get picked off or thrown out on ill-advised strolls around the basepaths.

Over the past two campaigns, the White Sox were dead last in most baserunning metrics. The fact that the team was dreadfully slow afoot was just icing on the cake for the people like myself who grew weary of the team running itself out of potentially productive innings.

To be clear, the coaching staff doesn't get a pass on this topic. First-base coach Daryl Boston, a likable and hard-working organization man, was of little help in solving the baserunning gaffes. These mistakes kept occurring at a ridiculous pace, with no corrective measures.

Hahn took matters into his own hands this offseason. He added minor league players with speed to the roster and hired former stolen-base king Vince Coleman as a major and minor league baserunning instructor.

"You do not have to have above average speed to be a good baserunner," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said on The Score this past Saturday. "You can learn to take an extra base or understand a situation without making a mistake."

Coleman worked as a minor league instructor with Houston the past two seasons. Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve was second in the major leagues last year with 56 stolen bases, up 21 from his 2013 total. Altuve also improved his stolen-base percentage from 66 percent to 85 percent from 2013 to 2014.

In this era of specialization, it makes sense to hire a baserunning expert like Coleman. He should be able to get the most out of each individual's potential. Adding veteran Emilio Bonifacio as a free agent (26 steals in 2014) and potentially adding minor league prospects like Micah Johnson (22 steals) and Carlos Sanchez (17 stolen bases) gives Chicago a chance to score more runs in 2015.

As an example, leadoff man Adam Eaton should be a consistent base-stealing threat. Injuries limited both his and the team's desire to run more in 2014. Thirty steals should be an easy goal for Eaton this year, which would double his total from last season. Eaton was thrown out on 40 percent of his attempts in 2014, which isn't an acceptable number. The rule of thumb in base-stealing attempts says you should be successful 75 percent of the time or better. Anything less is considered an unproductive loss of a baserunner.

Give the White Sox brass credit for trying to shore up an obvious weakness and an important part of the teams offense. These subtle moves by Hahn could pay huge dividends for the White Sox.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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