Is Andrelton Simmons Having the Best Defensive Season Ever?

You saw this post’s headline before you read this sentence. The headline’s a question, so you probably answered it. I’m guessing your answer is, “probably not, no.” Or maybe it’s, “well we have no way of possibly knowing.” Or maybe it’s both. And that’s perfectly fair — we don’t have any way of possibly knowing for sure, and there was a lot of baseball before 2013 Andrelton Simmons. But if you’re reading this post anyway, it means you’re curious. And curiosity requires an open mind. You’re willing to consider the possibility that Simmons is having the best defensive season ever, and that might say enough on its own.

The other day, Jose Iglesias did something amazing, and I wrote about it. I don’t think it’s the greatest defensive play by a shortstop I’ve ever seen, but a full write-up felt appropriate, given Iglesias’ reputation and given his importance to a contending Tigers team with the rest of the Tigers’ defensive infield. Eventually, it had to be noted that no matter how good we think Iglesias might be, there’s already an Andrelton Simmons. Iglesias, this year, has been a good shortstop for 318 innings. Simmons has been a good shortstop for more than a thousand. Iglesias is going to be hard-pressed to emerge as the best defensive shortstop in baseball, because Simmons pushes sensibility to the extremes, and with his 2013 in particular, we have to wonder: how does this stack up? Where does this season fit in all-time?

We begin with the knowledge that we can’t have a good answer. Defensive stats, now, in their current and most advanced form, are hotly disputed and somewhat unreliable. Defensive stats before now were even worse, and people in the 1920s probably didn’t dream that people in the 21st Century would much care about the defensive performance of Frankie Frisch. I reject the notion that early baseball defensive measurements are useless. I accept the notion that the error bars are massive. This is more of just an exercise for fun, for the sake of fun. Let’s just ask the question: is Andrelton Simmons having the best defensive season ever? What does the evidence say, even if it isn’t great?

Probably not, no

We have UZR information going back to 2002, so we might as well use it. We can look at qualified individual single seasons, and right now 2013 Simmons has a UZR of +20.6, and a UZR/150 of +26.6. Those numbers are outstanding! But 2010 Brett Gardner had a UZR/150 of +31.5. In 2007, Alfonso Soriano had a raw UZR of +33.2. If you’re worried about skill positions, then you have to look at 2009 Franklin Gutierrez. Just this year, Simmons has a slightly lower UZR than Manny Machado, although Machado plays an easier position. The take-home: Simmons probably won’t finish the year with the highest UZR since it was first tracked. Even after you include positional adjustments, it gets messy at the top. Simmons looks outstanding, but he’s not the clear No. 1, even since 2002.

Well, maybe?

We have DRS information going back to 2003, so we might as well use it. Here are the top 12 recent seasons in Defensive Runs Saved:

At the top, we find Simmons one back, in a tie. It’s also just the middle of August, and Simmons trails Everett by nearly 300 innings. As the season goes on, it stands to reason Simmons will only add value, separating himself from the rest. So there’s an argument to be made that Simmons is having the best defensive season since 2003.

And then we turn to Baseball-Reference and Total Zone to find some longer-term historical data. Here’s a link where you can read about Total Zone, and that’s the best we’ll be able to do. Different eras are treated differently, depending on the available data, but the ideas are the same, and let’s just look at the all-time top 10, while we’re here:

(Update: it’s come to my attention Baseball-Reference uses Total Zone pre-2003, and DRS since 2003.)

Simmons shows up on the list, five from the top, and again, it’s the middle of August, meaning Simmons should add to his number between now and the playoffs. He’s on pace to finish at +46, and he was extraordinary by the same stat a year ago. If you sort everyone by Total Zone per 150 games, we find Simmons highest all-time, a few runs ahead of 2009 Jack Wilson among shortstops. This, right here, is the argument for Simmons having the best defensive season ever. We don’t have quality all-time defensive data, but the data we do have says Simmons is unbelievable. It’s not literally meaningless. By definition, there is an argument for Simmons’ 2013 defensive season being historically relevant.

So how is this happening?

If you mean statistically, I don’t feel like getting into the calculations. If you’re just wondering what makes Simmons so good, that part I can handle. Eno talked to Simmons in May, and one things Simmons does is position himself pretty deep to take advantage of his incredible arm:

That arm strength allows Simmons to position himself deeper in the hole than many shortstops, but it’s not the arm strength alone. “Sometimes I feel like I play more in the hole because I feel like going to my left side, I still have a good chance to get that guy,” Simmons said, adding that since he is comfortable there because he has his “arm protecting that hole,” he can still make the play from his deeper position.

According to the 2012 Fan Scouting Report, Simmons was tied with Yadier Molina and Bryce Harper for having the strongest arm in baseball. Aside from having a great arm, Simmons doesn’t screw up plays he shouldn’t screw up. Friends at Baseball Info Solutions passed along some data, showing shortstop performance on “routine plays,” those being plays the average shortstop makes at least 50% of the time. This year, Simmons has converted nearly 96% of those plays. Next-best is Cliff Pennington, at 93%. Then there’s Pete Kozma, right above 91%. It isn’t just making plays shortstops don’t make — it’s making all the plays they do.

But, there are those plays shortstop don’t make. Below, some of 2013 Simmons’ most impactful defensive plays, with regard to Defensive Runs Saved. Some of them might not look all that difficult. That’s not the play — that’s Simmons.

clip0819.gif.opt

clip0820.gif.opt

clip0821.gif.opt

clip0822.gif.opt

clip0823.gif.opt

All together, those five plays were worth +3.2 runs in plus/minus. You can just trust me when I say there’s a lot more where these came from.

Right now, Jose Iglesias is good, but Andrelton Simmons has to be considered the best defensive shortstop in baseball. In fact, there’s a not-completely-stupid argument to be made that 2013 Andrelton Simmons is having the best defensive season ever, through baseball history. We could never know that for sure, because even today, we measure defense like we measure soup temperature with our fingers. There’s no further the discussion can go, not with information that’s publicly available. But there’s been a whole lot of baseball over the years. Within that vast landscape, Andrelton Simmons is making his visible mark.




Print This Post



Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


119 Responses to “Is Andrelton Simmons Having the Best Defensive Season Ever?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Something Witty says:

    I’ve been hearing for a while about Simmons but, since I don’t care to watch the Braves all the time, it’s hard to get a feel for what makes him so good. This helped answer that curiosity.

    I wonder what would happen if they put Muchado at SS?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh M says:

      Would it be outrageous to suggest playing with statues to the left and the right increases his defensive performance? ie he gets more chances to make incredible plays because the other guys are so terrible? Potentially if he played with a better infield his defensive metrics wouldnt be quite as good? Just throwing it out there.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jmpmk2 says:

        I’m glad you brought that up, because I was going to propose that Tulowitzki may be having a “down” year defensively, not just because of injury, but because of the great defensive seasons Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu are having is having at 3rd and 2nd. Could they be limiting Tulo’s potential to make out-of-zone plays?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • y54y45y says:

        i heard in an interview somewhere that the braves give simmons a lot of command over defensive alignment. so i would argue that he is in control of setting up his range for a given batter.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sammy says:

        His help at third base not so good,but 2nd base is good at defense.. wouldnt be able to put up those numbers if his help was not there.. Not a one man game

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Trolly McTrollface says:

    No.

    -70 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Two quick updates:

    -Apparently Baseball-Reference uses Total Zone for pre-2003 and DRS since 2003. So that’s a consideration.

    -in the DRS list, put Gardner a run ahead of Simmons, since in 2010 he played two positions. Simmons, though, should still have no trouble passing him in the coming weeks.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bstar says:

      Jeff, B-Ref still lists TZ numbers for players post-2002. TZ runs are labeled Rtot and are listed in the fielding section of a player page right next to DRS runs.

      Simmons is +26 in TZ this year through 116 games, so he’s on pace for +36 runs at year’s end. +36 would be tied for the sixth best single-season TZ total ever and the second highest SS season ever. Adam Everett 2006 is the all-time leader at +40 TZ runs.

      Here’s a link to the list:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/tz_runs_total_tf_season.shtml

      Here’s the top 10 for TZ runs in a single-season:

      1. Adam Everett 2006, +40
      2. Darin Erstad 2002, +39
      3. Michael Bourn, 2012, +38
      3. Jose Cruz Jr. 2003, +38
      5. Barry Bonds 1989, +37
      6. Andruw Jones 1999, +36
      7. Mark Belanger 1975, +35
      7. Andruw Jones 1998, +35
      9. Brett Gardner 2011, +34
      10 Rey Ordonez 1999, +33
      10 Brooks Robinson 1968, +33

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. fast at last says:

    I’ll just add that he’s got great instincts and first step reaction. He’s actually not that fast running in a straight line, but he knows what pitch is about the be thrown (something offspeed or fastball) and adjusts and anticipates accordingly. A season where Simmons puts up even a ~110 wRC+ would push 6-7 wins.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Rob says:

      And that’s in fWAR. He’s on pace for over 6 bWAR this season despite the sub 80 wRC+. For whatever reason, DRS is just much, much higher on SS defense than UZR (which seems to like OF defense a heck of a lot more for some reason).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • dave says:

        It’s incredibly variable, some highly-regarded defensive OFs are favored by DRS, Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra have +10 more DRS than UZR this season for instance.

        Just generally speaking it seems easier to get extreme values on DRS, be they positive or negative. Though that could be some observational bias on my part.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Rob says:

          It may be closer with OF than I initially thought. I was thinking Gardner’s crazy number translated to a higher raw UZR than it did. It appears both systems rank a similar number of OF with 25+ runs saved and UZR only ranks ~5 additional guys as having 20+ run seasons.

          For SS, there seems to be a pretty clear difference between the systems. Tony Pena has the 5th best single season UZR ever at 15.5, but there are 21 16+ DRS seasons. There are similar differences for 2B, but the other IF positions seem to fall in between with DRS being just a bit higher on the high end.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Rally says:

          Another thing with Total Zone (and I created it) is that it won’t have as many extreme values as UZR or DRS. We just don’t have the detailed data for someone like Frisch as we do with Adam Everett or Simmons.

          If you want to go all-in on finding the best defensive season ever, you might want to compute the variance and see how many standard deviations above average the top contenders are.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Rob says:

    http://wapc.mlb.com/play?content_id=22106409

    I’m sure many will disagree, but I consider that the most amazing defensive play I have ever seen. There are maybe a handful of guys who could stop that ball and manage to get the runner at 2B. Simmons gets the ball to 2B so quickly that the Braves turn a DP on Hanley Ramirez, who is by no means slow, with ease. I have never seen a SS do what Simmons does after diving to get a leg underneath him so he can get the ball out quicker and with more velocity. This was the moment when I realized Simmons was a completely different animal defensively at SS than anyone else I had ever seen. It was like seeing Andruw Jones in CF when he was in his early 20s.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Matty Brown says:

    dat arm

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. CJ says:

    More clips of Simmons from early this season:
    http://imgur.com/a/l7E4p#0

    I am old enough to remember Ozzie Smith and can say that they are definitely comparable. Both of them do make the incredibly difficult plays look easy.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Roger says:

      I was just about to ask about that. I was just beginning to watch baseball when Smith had his peak defensive season (+32 Rtot in 1989), so I remember the reputation and clips of him doing backflips and little else.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Tim says:

      I was wondering when someone was going to mention Ozzie. Any conversation about the best defensive shortstop ever has to start with him.

      Simmons looks good, though. Let’s see him do this for as long as Ozzie did.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Louie says:

    This one from April slays me. Best SS catch on a pop-up I’ve ever seen.

    http://wapc.mlb.com/atl/play/?content_id=26463823&topic_id=&c_id=atl&tcid=vpp_copy_26463823&v=3

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. CJ says:

    What is really sad is that in the Baseball America coaches poll Tulowitzki was named as the best defensive shortstop in the NL and Ian Desmond was named as having the best infield arm. Simmons was in 3rd place for best defensive shortstop and 2nd place for best infield arm. All I can say is what are they watching? It will awful if Simmons loses the Gold Glove this year simply because he can’t hit. Unfortunately, that could very well happen.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Scraps says:

      For sure. Brendan Ryan, Adam Everett…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CJ says:

        Scraps, you are right. Brendan Ryan should have won multiple gold gloves. And he has none. Yet how many does Derek Jeter have?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Will says:

      What were they watching? Not Andrelton Simmons, and it’s not fault of their own. Simmons has only played 165 major league games, and has only played 5 NL teams more than 9 times. It’s no wonder someone like Dale Sveum or Bud Black would vote for other players ahead of Simmons. They’ve only had one 3 games series to see Simmons play. Chances are he didn’t have a chance to show off his range or arm in those games.

      Furthermore, it’s not like they were wrong either. Desmond does have a fantastic arm (http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?content_id=29039611&c_id=mlb) and Tulo is inarguably one of the best defensive SS in NL. It will just take longer than 7 months for his reputation to get around.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CJ says:

        Will, why do they need to see him play or go by reputation? If they take their votes seriously they should ask their scouts who are the best. In fact, these awards really should be voted on by the scouts. They know the ability of players more than anyone else. They also would be more likely to separate out the defense from the offense.

        Finally, Tulo is a really good shortstop. Simmons is one of the best in baseball for the last 20 years. Desmond has a really good arm. Simmons has a cannon. So, yes, they were wrong.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • harpago17 says:

      Seeing the plays above, I think it’s fair to say the Rockies and Nationals coaches will be changing their votes on “strongest arm”.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. triple_r says:

    He’s probably the player with the most value from his glove.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. DJG says:

    He also could very well shatter the single-season record for bb-ref’s dWAR. His current pace would put him around 6.3, the record is 5.4 set by Terry Turner in 1906. Turner also hit well that year and had a random 9-WAR season in an otherwise mediocre career. His nickname was “Cotton Top”.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. binqasim says:

    I am jealous.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Kimbal Binder says:

    Simmons may suffer from the curse of batting-average-trumps-defensive-skills. Remember that Derek Jeter has won Gold Gloves!!! Jeter is/was a no-range guy with a good arm who has a great baseball mind, but it was an insult to the Vizquels of this world that he won a GG. Tulo has the hitting and the reputation. I hope lots of people in the bigs read this and consider rewarding Simmons. For darned sure Jimmy Rollins should not win it again! Glad you wrote this…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Kevin says:

      You make it sound like Tulo and Jeter are equally undeserving. I hope that’s just a quirk of typed communication, and not what you meant.
      While Simmons is the class of NL SS, Tulo is pretty clearly the second best glovesman at short.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pitnick says:

        I don’t know how clear that is. Tulo is great, for sure, but there are other guys you have to include in the conversation. Brandon Crawford and Clint Barmes jump to mind

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Drew says:

    What about that time when Derek Jeter jumped into the stands?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. swainzy says:

    Going back through the comments section of the SS positional power rankings and reading the argument over Simmons…so many lulz.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Anon21 says:

      Yeah… love bballislife17’s snark:

      “Dear Jeff,

      Is Andrelton Simmons the best defensive SS of all time or just the best defensive SS of our generation?

      Sincerely,

      Every Braves Fan”

      Dear Braves Fans: Yes.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. mikeyhen says:

    Wow didn’t expect an article to be written after I asked you this in the fangraphs chat a few days ago! http://i.imgur.com/TIYvMBm.png

    Thanks!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Immanuel Kant says:

    Seriously, though: is the margin of error on measuring the temperature of soup really the same as current defensive metrics? How would you calculate those?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. DNA+ says:

    Those plays in the GIF are what the defensive statistics grade as his best?! Several of them are routine plays that all shortstops make…. …This really illustrates why we should all ignore the defensive stats. You end up having silly discussions about whether Brett Gardner might have had one of the greatest defensive seasons of all time…

    -25 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Anon21 says:

      No, they are not routine plays. Simmons makes some of them look routine because he gets incredible first steps and is able to position himself to make catches that other shortstops wouldn’t even attempt, but none of them are routine.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DNA+ says:

        All shortstops should make 2 and 3. Most also make 4. …its like you guys have never seen a baseball game before….

        -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Anon21 says:

          Well, it’s more like you think you know better than everyone who’s watched him, including scouts and professional defensive evaluators. Whereas in fact, you’re just showing your ignorance and the way you get tricked by the flow of Simmons’ play.

          Your opinion is valueless. Go away.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • DNA+ says:

          Actually, I agree with the scouts that he is a terrific defensive shortstop. …I promise you the scouts do not think he is a terrific shortstop because of play 3 (which I could even make).

          The point isn’t that Simmons is a bad shortstop. Nobody thinks that. The point is that the statistics used to show he is a great shortstop are obviously nonsense.

          -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Anon21 says:

          The point is that the statistics used to show he is a great shortstop are obviously nonsense.

          Well then it’s a bad point, because defensive statistics are not obviously nonsense. They are not as accurate as offensive statistics, but they are a whole lot better than imprecise 20-80 grades and random speculation.

          Here’s the thing about play 3 specifically. You’re probably being fooled into thinking that “you could make it” because the hitter gives up halfway down the first-base line because he is obviously out. But that ground ball was hit hard—it would have hit the outfield grass in maybe 1.2 seconds if Simmons hadn’t cut it off. He goes to a knee, gets up, and throws in probably less than a second. And the throw is good, of course. The only reason it doesn’t look like a highlight play is because a) he gets such a good first step that the stop is not dramatic b) the batter-runner literally gives up because of how hopeless the situation is.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • DNA+ says:

          Defensive statistics are actually much worse than the scouts, because most of the variation is random and the error is greater than the differences that are trying to be measured.

          Play 3 was a soft bouncer up the middle that everybody in MLB makes. You are probably fooled into believing it is difficult because the error in the statistic randomly skewed towards difficult, and you believe the statistic more than what you are obviously seeing.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Anon21 says:

          “the error is greater than the differences that are trying to be measured.”

          Citation badly needed. This is simply not accurate.

          “You are probably fooled into believing it is difficult because the error in the statistic randomly skewed towards difficult, and you believe the statistic more than what you are obviously seeing.”

          Actually, no. You are fooled into thinking it was a routine play because it turned out not to be close at first.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • DNA+ says:

          We don’t actually know the error in the defensive statistics. This is because those that compile the stats refuse to calculate them, or at least make them public. However, we do know that all the error is biased towards the more difficult plays that determine the differences between players. Everyone interested in proper quantification should ignore the defensive statistics entirely.

          Actually, yes. Play 3 is a routine play even in beer league softball by middle-aged, buzzed, fat men. The reason he gets the runner so easily is because all slow one hoppers directly at the shortstop arrive at the shortstop before the baserunner has had a chance to drop his bat and step out of the batters box. What do you think Derek Jeter would do differently on that play? Perhaps field it without going to the ground?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Anon21 says:

          I’m sorry, you’re just embarrassing yourself at this point. That wasn’t a “slow grounder,” and the BIS scorers know far more about defensive evaluation than you ever will. I’ll return to where I started: when you say dumb shit like “that’s a routine play in beer league softball,” your opinion is demonstrated to be completely valueless.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bronnt says:

      And perhaps this is why the so-called “eye test” is completely unreliable. Someone like Simmons can make incredible plays look fairly routine. Do you see how much ground he covers on the first, fourth, and fifth GIFs in particular? A lot of shortstops simply don’t have time to get to those and still throw out the runner.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Hason Jeyward says:

      Or, you know, you could read what the article actually says about the GIFs.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • KDL says:

      Summary: Information that doesn’t confirm the ideas I already have is dumb, so everyone else should ignore it, too.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Max says:

    Wait, that last gif is in real time? He throws the ball so fast it seems the video was sped up. Lordy.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. sansho1 says:

    If you’re looking for the best defensive seasons in history, it’s useless to compare ratings for shortstops with those of LFs (Gardner, Bonds, Soriano) and 1Bs (Pujols). Only SS and C (and, to a lesser extent, CF) represent efficient defensive markets — that is to say, only in those positions do the absolute best defensive players 1) gravitate, and 2) get a chance to play in the majors relatively irrespective of their offensive prowess. Therefore, any relative measure for positions like LF and 1B is queered by the large number of defensive liabilities who man those positions, and it’s my belief (though I can’t say for sure) that zone ratings also take into account the limited capabilities of the average defender at those positions. Brett Gardner may add as many relative runs for his team as Simmons by virtue of playing the same position as Raul Ibanez and Delmon Young, but it’s not a serious proposition to put him in the discussion as the best defensive player in the game.

    +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dirck says:

      Sansho ,that negative vote on your comment was mine and it was a mistake .I agree completely that winning a beauty contest among the equivalent of nursing home residents is not nearly as representative of beauty as winning Miss Universe .

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • MrKnowNothing says:

      Somewhat agree.

      A great LF may be an average or above average CF. A great 2B may be an average-ish SS. But, there’s no place to stick a SS to “inflate” his value. Like, if you put Simmons at 1B, he’d be so far beyond any 1B that it would be ridiculous. In a sense, some players can “artificially” inflate their defensive numbers because they’re simply not playing the correct position vis a vis their attributes.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Too Many Uptons says:

      That throw on Goldschmidt is spectacular–deep in the hole, and he makes a perfect chest-high throw.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bradleyjah says:

        I enjoy that Freddie had so much confidence in Simmons’ arm that he didn’t even both to stretch for the throw.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. tyke says:

    those GIFs are just fucking ridiculous. amazing.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tyke says:

      that first one especially. he charges from the outfield grass (deep, and maybe starting closer to 3b than 2b), fields it on the 1b side of the bag, and still has the batter out by a step. holy fuck.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. ron says:

    I am not sure if the conversations is just about ss. I remember an absolutely astonishing defensive performance by Brooks Robinson, his year was terrific, his world series was just outrageous. He was doing things that seemed to be a physical impossibility.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. BurleighGrimes says:

    Man, Simmons’ arm is unreal.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. OsvaldoVillar2012 says:

    hatThe short stop is playing in a position in order to catch the ball, he is starting closer to 3 base than 2 second base), and he is nar the grass of the out field playing to double play as the batter is OUT !

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. OsvaldoVillar2012 says:

    The short stop is playing in a position in order to catch the ball, he is starting closer to 3 base than 2 second base), and he is nar the grass of the out field playing to double play as the batter is OUT !

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. Joe Maddon says:

    Jose Molina saved 50 runs just on framing in 2012

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Tom says:

    It’s weird that Andruw Jones and Andrelton Simmons were both born on the island of Curacao, both signed by the Atlanta Braves and both in the argument for the best defensive player at their positions in all of baseball history. I’d love to read how the Braves scout defensive prospects, because someone over there is doing a pretty good job (Elvis Andrus was also a Braves’ signee and not too shabby with the glove.)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • drel drel drel says:

      the crazy thing, he was actaully signed as a pitching prospect originally. Rumor is that he had a FB that sat 97-98, but he wanted to play SS. Braves told him he 2 years to see what he could do at SS before they would switch him back to pitching. That was in 2010. Well by June of 2012 he had made it from Rookie ball to the MLB and was starting for the Braves.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dan says:

        It was the other way around. Simmons was drafted in the 2nd round, and said he would only sign if the Braves gave him a chance to play short. They wanted him to pitch (like everyone else), but agreed to let him try to hit.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CJ says:

      Don’t forget Jason Heyward. He is an outstanding defensive outfielder.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. simmons places himself in position to handle the PLAY…whether the ball is hit to him or not…His baseball IQ is excellent….but…..also included in a number of the outstanding plays is the receiver..Freddie Freeman…that duo is awesome…Freeman makes so many plays it is rediculous.. Simmon is the real deal…and better this year at the plate than expected!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dan Ugglas Forearm says:

      Freeman is at best an average defender. He makes some nice stretches and scoops, but those are things every 1B is expected to do.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tim says:

        Average glove fielding the ball off the bat but when he receives the ball on throws he is one of the best in the league

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. Roger says:

    I just love the fact that the Braves drafted Simmons as a pitcher. It was only because Simmons wouldn’t sign unless they first gave him a try at SS that they let him. It’s amazing how oftentimes a generational talent is one you luck into.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. Hurtlocker says:

    Any all-time fielding list that doesn’t include Ozzie Smith, Brooks Robinson or Willie Mays is flawed. Even leaving off Gary Maddox, the secretary of defense is a joke. If you are saying the best fielding season since 2002 counting stats started is one thing. ALL TIME?? I don’t think so.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Do you want to know what makes Simmons so great? It’s not the plays he makes, but the plays he doesn’t make. Last week B-Mac caught a pop-up against the screen and who was there to back him up, yep you guessed it, I have never seen that except maybe when Jeter made that incredible relay to home running towards the first base line. Simmons instincts are off the chart and the comment that he doesn’t have any help at 2nd or 3rd is wrong,Johnson has had an outstanding defensive year along with his bat. Uggla is the only problem, but they need his bat.Last year Simmons amazed me and made me realize he was really something special when there was a ground ball hit to Uggla and Simmons was there to back him up and it wasn’t hit up the middle. I can’t wait to see him get more power in his swing and hit to the opposite field. With his ability to put wood on the ball when he does start hitting like he fields, there will be many more silver sluggers to go with his gold gloves before his career is over. He has the potential to be the greatest SS of all time. I watch the Braves to see what he is going to do next, just like I use to watch the White Sox to see Frank Thomas hit. The only question I have about Simmons is when is he going to get a proper nickname?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Roger says:

      You lost me when you said the Braves need Uggla for his bat. He obviously lost his bat years ago. The Braves just need Uggla to retire so that he won’t collect his paycheck anymore.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CJ says:

      I love Simmons but you are getting a bit ahead of yourself with regards to his hitting. He doesn’t need any more power. He needs to get more balanced at the plate and stop trying to hit home runs all the time. I think he can and will become more polished and end up as a .280/.340 line drive type of hitter. However, I just don’t see him ever winning a silver slugger.

      Greatest shortstop of all time? Nah, I just don’t see that. Maybe defensively, but that’s it.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dan Ugglas Forearm says:

      Simmons is probably the only SS I see that still backs up the throw to the pitcher after every pitch. He might be the only person above the age of 10 that still finds that to be important. I figured its status was relegated to baseball’s equivalent of a football longsnapper, or a basketball hustle and D player. Just guys short on talent trying to make their high school team. Not so, with Simmons.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • James says:

      I don’t know what games you’re watching that makes you think Johnson is having a “outstanding defensive season.” He’ll often play 1 foot of the line and still have balls sneak past him down the line. Basically if the ball isn’t hit right at him, it’s 50/50 as to whether he’ll make the play.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • fast at last says:

      “Johnson has had an outstanding defensive year along with his bat.”

      You are high and very wrong about many things you said.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. swieker says:

    Does SABR give out an annual award for best analogy? If so, Sullivan wins with this one: “[E]ven today, we measure defense like we measure soup temperature with our fingers.”

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. I vote we call him Ton, because thats how he plays, like a Ton.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. Jenna Mire says:

    What impresses me about Simmons’s defense if how fast he gets back up to make the throw when he has to get down for a ball. Those clips didn’t even do him justice. He makes it look that easy. Simmons for Heisman!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. I agree Roger, Uggla isn’t having his best season. He is on pace to have his highest strikeout season, but he has always struckout alot so this is nothing new. His errors have cost a game or two, but he has had some hitting streaks that have won as many games as his glove has lost. The whole team is striking out. B J Upton is the problem he needs to give some of his 14 mil back.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. TKDC says:

    I think Simmons wins the GG going away. People talk about offense having a roll, and that is true, but the bigger culprit in retarded voting is errors. The think is, though, with Simmons you get all the great plays and how many errors does he have this season? Three. Yes, that is not a misprint. Old school voters care about errors, and even though Simmons basically never eats the ball, he still doesn’t make errors because his cannon is not only fast, it is insanely accurate (and Freeman is good in the rare case it isn’t, too).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Anon21 says:

      I hope you’re right, but I don’t believe it, myself. The Gold Glove voters literally don’t need to do any viewing of tape or defensive metrics before casting their votes, and most are so busy that they don’t. When the process is so slipshod, you can’t expect it to produce correct results.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  37. MisterJ says:

    Just pick a defensive highlight for yourself:

    http://wapc.mlb.com/atl/play/search/?player_id=592743&tagName=Andrelton%20Simmons

    I saw Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith play. Simmons is at least at that level. And when you consider he’s sandwiched between Chris Johnson and Dan Uggla, well…

    It’s his arm that amazes me, the power and the accuracy. And he doesn’t gun it ALL THE TIME like Shawn Dunston used to. And he has a killer instinct: look at the Cuddyer play again…

    http://wapc.mlb.com/atl/play/?content_id=29275815&player_id=592743

    Look at the score. 8-3 Braves in the seventh. And Simmons refuses to let them get even a run to make them think they might have a chance at a comeback. This guy is something special and all I can say is I’m glad he’s with us.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  38. Dan Ugglas Forearm says:

    http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?content_id=26463823&c_id=mlb

    Just enjoy it the first time through. Then, when the replay starts, immediately turn your attention to the warning track/grass area where Simmons makes the catch. It looks like there’s no possible way he’s going to get there. Simply amazing.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. Tim says:

    Simmons is very good but you can’t overlook the work Freeman does at first either. He has one of the best stretches in baseball and some of those outstanding difficult balls that Simmons gets to are only outs because of the glove at first. (Freeman has also saved about 20 errors off of Uggla’s throws) It will be a good combo for years to come

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  40. Fritz says:

    I live in Atlanta and worked for the Braves as a kid for 10+ years and have seen a ton of baseball games in my days. I must admit the most impressive thing about Simmons is his ARM. He makes all the plays and eats everything up in the short outfield grass. He kills you on relay throws to the plate…. dead on the line .. no hop. The only marginally negative and I mean extremely marginally comments is that he is not flashy nor as smooth as for example Omar Vizquel, who I saw late in his career with SF.You cannot put him in that category but he can play… and is similar defensively to guys like Andruw Jones and Roberto Alomar nightly “Plays of the Day” highlights. He will be here for years ….his arm strength and it’s accuracy is difficult to pit into words. Watch the MLB channels highlights….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  41. Romiro Marcos says:

    and imagine that he born in Willemstad just as andruw jones,Profar,and Didi Gregorius I think we have good kids on the Island of Curacao.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  42. Jay Bone says:

    Braves radio broadcasters call him Simba.

    And he displays the same superior anticipation/instincts on the basebaths.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  43. Brad says:

    I don’t see how this play from the WBC didn’t make it in the article. This pretty much sums up his defensive value.

    http://www.bloguin.com/theoutsidecorner/2013-articles/march/andrelton-simmons-is-still-an-awesome-defender.html

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  44. Non-PED Baseball Fan says:

    Seriously…
    The behemoths playing baseball today chug to first after hitting a ground ball in approximately the same time that Ozzie Smith could have fielded the ball and run it over there – ahead of most of them.
    Of course a tie would go to the chugger. Best defensive season? How many times have you watched an infielder boot the ball, pick it back up again, and still throw oout the runner? Do you think baseball has always been this way?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  45. Daniel T says:

    Atlanta has two of the best defender’s in the majors in Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward.. get well soon to Jason

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>