GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ask some of the top scouts in the game and they will tell you that perhaps the most underrated infielder in American League plays shortstop for the Chicago White Sox.
"This guy is totally under the radar," said a longtime talent evaluator from the National League West. "Every season you hear about (Derek) Jeter or (Alcides) Escobar as the best. For my money Alexei Ramirez is the best all-around in that league."
Ramirez is locked up through the 2015 season with a club option in 2016 after signing a four-year extension in February 2011. That type of stability has given Ramirez the confidence and security to concentrate on his overall game. Since 2009 he has played the most games and driven in more runs than any other AL shortstop.
Ramirez, who has missed just 14 games the past three seasons, believes he can continue to improve his game.
"Looking back at my numbers last season, there were some inconsistent parts of my game I would like to improve on," he said through a team translator. "I was able to work through some little injuries and play a full season. Playing all the games is my No. 1 goal."
Ramirez, who is a notoriously slow starter, had a bit of a power outage in 2012 with a career-low nine home runs to go along with 73 RBIs and a .265 batting average.
"In my opinion you don't try to hit home runs they just come as you play," said Ramirez, who has averaged 15 home runs, 71 RBIs and a .276 batting average over his five seasons with the Sox. "What is most important to me is having my best at-bats with runners in scoring position. If I get that I know I am helping the team."
Ramirez, who cut his errors last season to a career-low 12, takes great pride in his defense and hopes to continue to improve even if there is little recognition.
"Just the fact that some people mention me as a good shortstop is flattering," he said. "I want to have less errors this season. Last year I improved, but my goal is to be better and make less errors. The most important thing is to help the team and our pitchers with great defense."
The White Sox have arguably the best double-play combination in baseball with Ramirez and second baseman Gordon Beckham.
"We know each other well and have a feel for all the moves we have to make to get our job done," Ramirez said. "He is a great player and makes my job easier."
Ramirez said All-Star recognition would be a nice goal but only in the context of helping the Sox win.
"That would be like a dream for me," he said. "Like any player your goal is to play in the World Series and the All-Star Game. My first goal is as a teammate to get back to the World Series."