Grading Atlanta Braves’ Starters in World Baseball Classic
Atlanta Braves‘ shortstop Andrelton Simmons and closer Craig Kimbrel both have been eliminated from the World Baseball Classic. Kimbrel and the United States team was eliminated on Friday by Puerto Rico while Simmons and the Netherlands were eliminated by the Dominican Republic in the semifinals on Monday. The tournament didn’t create much attention in the United States with MLB spring training underway and the NCAA Tournament set to begin. So in case you missed it, here’s a breakdown of the performances of the two young stars in the World Baseball Classic.
Andrelton Simmons: The young shortstop played outstanding for the Netherlands in the tournament. Simmons will be disappointed to not make the championship game but finished with a .333 batting average and showed displays of power with a .633 slugging and 1.016 OPS (both team highs). His signature moment came in the second round against Cuba when he hit a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning – a game the Netherlands eventually won 7-6 to help them advance to the semifinals. Simmons displayed his poise in that moment and throughout the classic hitting from the leadoff spot. He played outstanding in the field and hit for both power and average. Grade A.
Craig Kimbrel: Arguably the most dominant closer in the game last year, Kimbrel looked anything but in a critical moment for team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Kimbrel entered the game in the ninth in a 1-1 tie with the Dominican Republic and a berth in the semifinals on the line and promptly gave up two runs on three hits. The United States lost 3-1 and lost their next game against Puerto Rico to fail to reach the semifinals. In total, Kimbrel had just the one bad outing in four appearances. He allowed zero runs and two hits in his other three appearances and didn’t walk a batter. He finished with three strikeouts – a low number for Kimbrel. Expectations are high for Kimbrel following a historic 2012 season, so I’ll give him a C-.
Simmons and the Netherlands exceeded expectations while Kimbrel and team USA didn’t live up to the expectations. Braves’ fans should be encouraged that neither got hurt and can now rejoin the team with competitive game experience under their belts. We will have to wait and see if their tournament play translates to the 2013 season.