If you’ve been wondering about the lack of spring training updates on shortstop Andrelton Simmons, that’s because he is playing with the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. You may also be surprised to hear the World Baseball Classic is underway, but that’s a different topic. Most fans would agree that positional players can benefit from the tournament more than pitchers. Positional players get their at-bats one way or the other and so far, Simmons has made the most of his as he plays for his country.
The Atlanta Braves must feel confident about what they’ve seen from Simmons at the World Baseball Classic. In 13 at-bats, he has four hits (three doubles) for a .308 average and .846 OPS. Both numbers are good for third on the team and former Brave Andruw Jones leads both categories. He has been a part of four (three runs, one RBI) of his team’s 12 runs in pool play in helping the Netherlands advance.
There’s some concern in Atlanta about the potential struggles of a young player taking over the role of leadoff hitter at the MLB level. Those fans should feel comfort in knowing Simmons has done his damage while hitting from the leadoff spot for the Netherlands. While hitting in front of Jason Heyward will be different than hitting in front of Jonathan Schoop, the experience of hitting first in a competitive setting should not be ignored.
Simmons will face more quality pitching as the team continues to advance. They begin second round play in a double-elimination format against Cuba on Thursday. Depending on the result, they will face either Japan or Chinese Taipei on Saturday or Sunday. Braves fans would love for Simmons to be in the Grapefruit League with his MLB teammates. However, he’s getting sufficient at-bats from the leadoff spot and has looked comfortable in that spot so far in the World Baseball Classic, which is a more pressured setting than spring training.