The Problem With Atlanta Braves Shortstop Andrelton Simmons
Andrelton Simmons is a whiz kid in field, but he looks lost at the plate, sporting a poor .239/.283/.357 slash line.
In 2012, Simmons was invited to spring training to battle for the shortstop job, but the Atlanta Braves decided to stick with Tyler Pastornicky, who had a more developed bat. As the season went on, it became clear to Atlanta that Pastornicky’s defense wasn’t cutting it, so they brought Simmons up.
It was no shock that Simmons’ defense made the cut, but the Braves were pleasantly surprised with how well he did offensively. In 166 at bats, he accrued a .289/.335/.416 slash line, worlds above his performance this season.
Looking at Simmons, he swing has changed a bit. There’s more loft to his swing, and it has had its benefits. Simmons has hit 11 home runs this year, a relatively high number when you consider his size, but for every home run he’s hit, there have been three pop ups.
I’m not kidding. Simmons has hit a league-leading 30 infield fly balls this season. Heck, he popped out in his second and third at-bats last night, and he actually popped up in his first as well, the ball went just foul. He’s currently sporting a 19.2 percent pop-up rate, while the league average floats around 9–10 percent yearly. In fact, Simmons has the third-highest infield fly rate in the majors.
Simmons’ BABIP is atrocious compared to last year. It’s dropped drastically from a healthy .310 in 2012 to a frustrating .240 this season. I think this is due to his greatly increased fly ball rate, which has grown from 27.2 percent in 2012 to 36.7 percent this year.
This all points to Simmons’ mechanics or approach, and probably a little bit of both. He’s gotten home run-happy, and the side effects of his loftier swing have landed him in the eighth slot of the Braves’ lineup for the foreseeable future.