July 3, 2012 at 11:26 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves
Over at the Sweet Spot blog, a former colleague of mine (I guess still current colleague, in some sorts), Mark Simon, posted about Andrelton Simmons’s defense.
Simmons won the June award for top defender of the month, to the surprise of nobody who follows the Braves with any type of regularity. If Simmons isn’t the best defensive shortstop in baseball, he is at least the best defensive shortstop in the NL (Brendan Ryan still may have the crown for the MLB). But we all knew he would defend this well. The unexpected results have come at the plate, where he’s hitting .326/.369/.505.
The numbers will come down — he isn’t a 138 wRC+ hitter (that’s no slight against him!) but he does look like the type of hitter that can have success as a contact guy. The power is most certainly a mirage, as the home runs have been of the “just enough” variety, but it is nice to see him occasionally poke one out.
If he can manage to hit at a .280/.330/.370 clip going forward — ZiPS has him at .280/.317/.364 (I typed those previous numbers before I checked the ZiPS rest-of-season projections) then he could be a 4-5 win player. That’s pretty tremendous given he missed two months of the season.
The great thing about Simmons is that he doesn’t have to hit to be incredibly valuable. The defense has its value in itself, like it did last year with Alex Gonzalez. But it’s great to see how he’s handled the bat the first month of his major league career. It isn’t so much the results that impress me, they obviously do, but more the way he has gotten to those numbers. He has consistent contact, he puts together good plate appearances at times — last night was one of those times, 14 pitch walk — and he has a very level swing.
I think the Braves handled the entirely situation perfectly. It is easy to look at how Andrelton has produced and how Pastornicky produced and say that Andrelton should have gotten the job right out of the gate, but making sure Andrelton’s bat was real in the upper minors — even for two short months — seemed necessary to me. Could he have made the jump and been this good? Certainly. Could he have also made the jump, struggled, and been overmatched and hurt his development? Also a distinct possibility.
In projecting the team for next year, it isn’t outlandish to expect Simmons to be the most valuable player on the entire roster. That’s pretty astounding for a kid of his age with his limited experience as a full-time position player.