Earlier in the season I wrote about Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons and his inability to put the ball in play. He had been trying to hit for power and it was obvious in his swing as Simmons was popping up balls left and right. In fact he had one of the highest infield fly ball rates in the majors. Over the last two weeks, though, he seems to have found a way to make it all click.
In the last weeks, Simmons has been by far the most productive shortstop in the game. Not only has his defense continued to be top-notch and game changing, but his offensive output has skyrocketed. Rather than popping balls up and hitting lazy fly balls to the outfielders, Simmons has been squaring the ball up better than he has ever in his short career.
Since Aug. 25 Simmons has been killing it. He has 12 hits in 38 at bats, four of which were home runs, giving him a .316 batting average and an outstanding .789 slugging percentage while posting only one strikeout throughout the span of 12 games. Looking at his frame, one wouldn’t think Simmons could ever put up such numbers. Maybe it’s a fluke, but I’d like to think not.
Simmons has one issue in his swing that really hurts him, and I think that issue may be the key to his change in output. When he’s about to begin to swing the bat, Simmons has a little hitch where he moves the barrel of the bat over the plate and then swings. This movement sometimes prevents him from getting the bat through the zone on a flat plane which increases his likelihood of pop ups and weakly hit balls.
Hopefully Simmons can maintain this proper form he’s gotten into the groove of hitting with. His defense is already out matched, but it is his offensive output that’s prevented him from becoming a household name. If Simmons finds a way to maintain these numbers, guys like Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez may find their statuses of top shortstops in the game washed away by the young kid from Curacao.