Atlanta Braves‘ shortstop Andrelton Simmons is finally starting to get some recognition in the baseball world. While his bat has been lackluster this season, his defense has been other-worldly. Defense metrics from his appearances last season and throughout 2013 show that not only is he having the best defensive season in baseball, he’s not doing it by a small margin.
Simmons leads the majors in defensive WAR with 4.4. The players ranked second and third behind him are Manny Machado and Carlos Gomez, great defenders who both trail Simmons’ WAR by at least 1.3 points. The 10th placed defensive WAR leader in MLB is Dustin Pedroia with 1.8 WAR. So there is a deviation of 2.6 defensive WAR points between the 10th best in the world, and 23 year-old Simmons. That’s just ridiculous.
As far as batting goes, Simmons has disappointed in comparison to his small sample size in 2012, but the Braves know that his bat will develop with time. Though his power has improved, it seems maybe Simmons has been attempting to hit for more power, sacrificing his average and on-base percentage. Regardless, with a slash line of .242/.361/.648, the shortstop posts the 7th highest WAR in the NL.
To really put into perspective just how valuable Simmons’ defense has been to Atlanta, consider the difference in WAR between MLB leader, Miguel Cabrera, and Machado. Cabrera is sporting a 6.6 WAR so far the season, 1.3 points higher than Machado; Simmons’ defensive WAR is 1.3 points higher than Machado’s. That means that if Simmons’ had Machado’s offensive numbers, he would have a similar or even better WAR than Cabrera.
While expecting Simmons’ bat to turn into that of Machado’s may be wishful thinking, but if he can improve his offensive output to even near what Machado provides, Simmons could be one of the top 5 most valuable players in the world.