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How great can Andrelton Simmons be?

Apr 24, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT

Andrelton Simmons Getty Getty Images

I got an email a few minutes ago with a link to Howard Megdal’s Sports On Earth article about Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons. That’s like sending porn to a sex addict. How that didn’t go straight into the spam folder with all the other offers sent in order to appeal to my prurient interests I have no idea. All I know is that if anyone needs me, I’ll be in my bunk.

While I’m gone, go read Megdal’s piece. In it he asks Fredi Gonzalez to compare Simmons and Ozzie Smith. Which, after one gets past the silliness of comparing a Hall of Famer to a guy in his second full year and allows themselves to take a few magical leaps of faith, isn’t the silliest comparison at all.

But no matter how you fall on that — defensive metrics are still in their infancy, making such comparisons even more difficult than they seem at first — it’s undeniable that Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in the game and that his offense, while still a work in progress, doesn’t have to be that much better to transform him from the best defenders in the game into one of the best players in the game, full stop.

  1. Kevin S. - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    If the unexpected pop he showed last year holds, he might be the rare player who doesn’t even need a .300 OBP to be a star. If he can hold a .290/.320/.410 line, he’s an MVP candidate. His defense is that insane.

    • moogro - Apr 24, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      You are correct. But for him to win an MVP like that would require the voters to think. Right now his highlight reel is the best show in baseball.

  2. groupofsevenrules - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Well, since I’m fairly objective, let’s see if I can help you out here. Let me ponder this for a moment.

    Hmmm…yes…yes….yesssss…..

    He’s going to be frequently injured and will suck by his third year in the majors. I see Korea in his future.

    • renaado - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      Korea? Wow… Guy’s an awesome defensive infielder. I’m sure he’ll stick with the Majors and with the Braves for a long time.

      • Old Gator - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        I’m sure “seven” knows that – he’s just tweaking Craig. Probably just getting giddy as the last night of his late shift duty approaches. Those long northern winter nights will do that to a guy.

      • renaado - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        Oh, I see.. Just pointin out that Korea’s baseball league there is absolutely disgraceful for someone who’s watchin there, certainly it’s no place for Simmons to play there.

      • Old Gator - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        Since I suppose that seven’s asleep at the moment (hold that seven pound rainbow in your dreams, seven) I’ll simply belabor the obvious for you and point out that ballplayers who can’t quite make the grade here go play in Asia; also, that Korean baseball is generally held to be, while not “disgraceful” by any means, a tad less competitive overall than the Japanese league – which I guess was just an extra little tweak that seven threw in there for the Craigster’s benefit.

    • nbjays - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:32 AM

      Man, Seven, you either need to include the /s disclaimer or find a sarcasm font. You are going to give some of the sarcasm-blind posters here apoplexy if you keep posting such stuff. :-)

      • renaado - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        LoL, I’m still learning which statements are sarcasm and which one is not here. Well it’s alright anyways.

      • Old Gator - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        I think you’ll do just fine – your English comprehension isn’t nearly as bad as some of the ESL students I’ve taught through the years. However, it may be helpful to follow this simple rule of thumb on here: if you’re not sure whether it’s sarcasm or not, it probably is sarcasm.

      • bravojawja - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        Hell, his English comprehension is better than half the commenters here.

    • tbird05 - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Simmons would be a better defender than half of the shortstops in the MLB even if he only had one arm….preferably the one that throws 97 mph heaters over to first base though.

  3. raysfan1 - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    Of course playing to Simmons’ left at 2B is Uggla with his 22 Ks and 7 errors in 20 games.

    There’s your cold shower.

    • nbjays - Apr 24, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      Good point. The question now becomes: is Simmons a good enough defender to cover both middle infield positions. :-)

      • Kevin S. - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        I’m pretty sure he already is.

    • jwcamp - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      Braves have 17 errors in 20 games and 41% of them belong to Uggla. Two Braves players have more strikeouts than Uggla and they’re both named Upton.

      • bravojawja - Apr 24, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        And the Three Ewes are owed nearly 40% of this year’s payroll. New hire Ervin Santana is the only other Brave making $10+ million this year.

  4. zzalapski - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Whatever Fredi’s faults — and plenty certainly has been said here about them — he should be given credit for leaving Simmons the hell alone.

  5. thebadguyswon - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    He’s already great. If the power continues to develop, he’s a superstar.

  6. sandrafluke2012 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    A good defensive SS doesn’t save that many runs. How many times are there balls that Simmons would get to that Jeter wouldn’t? Not enough to make up for anemic offense

    • stex52 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Gee, think how good you’d be if you actually knew anything about baseball.

      • Old Gator - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        Hard to imagine such a thing.

      • vivabear - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        It would be hard for you to imagine knowing anything about baseball, Old Felcher. I mean, since you actually know nothing about the game itself. Your pretty much limited to dated, idiotic references to things within the game.

      • vivabear - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        *You’re

      • Old Gator - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        What’s the matter, little sewerbear? Didn’t make enough of a fool of yourself commenting on a joke about Mormons you didn’t understand yesterday, so you’re back seeing if you can find something else you know nothing about? Don’t worry – I guarantee you won’t have to collapse many synapses discovering yet another area of ignorance within a very, very short time.

      • vivabear - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        The thing about jokes, Old Felcher – is that they are funny. So don’t term anything you spew on here as a joke. Because nothing you type is funny, to anyone.

      • Old Gator - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:56 PM

        And not being satisfied with having made such a fool of yourself yet again, you are now lamely trying to salve your overpowering sense of insignificance by speaking for “everybody”?

    • nbjays - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      “How many times are there balls that Simmons would get to that Jeter wouldn’t?”

      Simmons regularly fields balls and makes plays that Jeter couldn’t get to even in his younger pre-statue days, let alone now.

      You really are a special brand of stupid, aren’t you?

      • sandrafluke2012 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        Bull. I watch most games

      • vivabear - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        Awesome research, NBJ

      • nbjays - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        OK, for both of you, here is the link to the highlight reel posted by Bill Baer last November:

        Here’s the link to the whole post:

        http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/11/16/want-to-watch-25-minutes-of-andrelton-simmons-defensive-highlights/

        Watch that end to end and tell me, honestly, how many of those plays a 25-year-old Jeter makes, let alone a 39-year-old Jeter.

        Not that I expect objective honesty or critical thought from either of you…

      • vivabear - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        NBJ – uh, no where did I agree that the defensive value of Simmons was negligible compared to Jeter. Nice job jumping to a conclusion. My comment was referring to your comment’s the lack of any real value to the conversation. Detroit Michael has a pretty good response below.

      • Old Gator - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        He’s just playing the percentages, sewerbear. One need only assume you’ve missed a point or are commenting through your cloaca and one will be right ninety nine percent of the time. Since your comments are usually devoid of content, or when containing any factoids in colloidal suspension are usually unconnected logically within, being wrong about what you might possibly have meant, assuming you meant anything in the first place, is a sufficiently minimal risk always to be worth taking.

      • vivabear - Apr 24, 2014 at 12:27 PM

        Looks like another flood of diarrhea from Old Felcher’s keyboard into the comments section.

      • Old Gator - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        You are aptly named, sewerbear. Your preoccupation with feces could be useful to the environment if you only knew how to extract the methane from it. Merely typing it out won’t work.

      • moogro - Apr 24, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        Great. NO way I could refuse to watch that AGAIN. Another 25 minutes down the drain and my vocal cords wrecked from cheering at my computer. That is the best entertainment in all of sports.

    • tmhofficial - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      I’m embarrassed for you after that post Sandrafluke.

      • renaado - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        Shhhhh!

    • Detroit Michael - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      Usually, the difference in offensive output is larger than the difference in defensive performance when comparng position players, but this is a fairly extreme case.

      Let’s avoid advanced defensive metrics for a moment. In 2013, Simmons had 639 assists + put outs in 1352-1/3 innings played. In 2012, Jeter had 496 assists + put outs in 1186-1/3 innings played. If we gross up Jeter’s figures to even out the playing time difference, Simmons had 74 more outs (and 74 fewer hits) per 1352-1/3 innings played. That’s a pretty substantial difference. Given that Jeter is now two years older and one major injury further down the line, and the difference probably has increased.

      Now obviously, one shouldn’t stop there. One can adjust the comparison for the fact that Simmons and Jeter don’t handle the exact same number and mix of batted balls to field. Furthermore, one should convert the fielding plays difference into runs saved. That’s where the advanced defensive metrics come in.

    • jostopholees - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:05 AM

      I’m just curious sandy, are you being sarcastic, ignorant of the sport or just insanely stupid?

      I’m going to assume its one of the latter 2. How many runs did Simmons save last year? 41. In just 426 innings 2 years ago, he saved 19. By comparison, jeter’s BEST defensive runs saved? 3, in 2009. The only year his DRS was even +

      Lets see, jeter owns a -UZR of 68 for his career, its only been + in one year, 2009. Simmons, however, has a 37.3 career UZR in a season and a half.

      Try harder kid

  7. faccda01 - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    He will never be half as good as Rollins, sorry Craig.

    • jostopholees - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:25 AM

      Stats much?

  8. Joe Vecchio - Apr 24, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    I saw a YouTube video of the best defensive plays of 2013 and thought to myself “wow, it’s only fifteen minutes shorter than the video of Simmons’ 2013 highlight reel”.

    The kid is Ozzie Smith with Shawon Dunston’s arm.

    • renaado - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      Heck, even some person in Japan puts up some of Simmons defensive highlights there. Truly a player of high caliber defensive skills Simmons have in his ability, many people with different kinds of nationality certainly admires his defence and I was the one who was struck the most on how amazing he is there at shortstop.

  9. robmar924 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    But he’s not even the best ss in the division. Will he ever go 20/20 with a 290 average? I have reason to doubt he will. People are getting carried away just because he is a really good defender.

    • renaado - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Just depends on how other people looks at him, surely there are some people who might disagree but for me and so as many others he surely is the best in that position.

    • Joe Vecchio - Apr 24, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      You should ask the Nationals how important a good defense can be. Especially at shortstop.

    • jostopholees - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:18 AM

      Interesting robbie. I assume you’re referencing Rollins. He went 20/20 with a .290 a grand total of ONCE and since has been back to his career averages and declining. He’s shown that his 2007 was an aberration [PED's?]

      As such, his WAR in 2007 was 6.4. Last year, Simmons’ was 4.6, 1.8 lower than Rollins’ career best, despite an OPS that was lower by 183 points.

      For all your harping over 20/20, in no other year that rollins went 20/20 did he have a higher WAR than Simmons last year.

  10. ud1951 - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    Not to toss cold water on Craig right after he got back from his bunk, but if Simmons becomes the best player in the game, full stop, will the Braves be able to outbid the Yankees for him when FA comes around?

    • Kevin S. - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Simmons is currently locked up for $58 million through 2020. Mike Trout, currently the best player in MLB, is locked up for $145 million over that same time period, and everybody thinks the Angels got a steal. If Simmons even approaches being one of the best players in the game, the Braves will gladly take getting him for the better part of a decade on one of the best contracts ever and then letting the Yankees overpay him through his 30s.

    • jamaicanjasta - Apr 24, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      They wouldn’t have to worry about that until after the 2020 season.

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