I’ve said before that the Atlanta Braves’ Andrelton Simmons’ performance at the plate is an inconsequential matter. His value to the team is entirely defensive; any good he does with the bat is a welcome bonus.
Certain other writers, experts, and otherwise opinionated spectators feel that Simmons’ skill at the plate is in desperate need of improvement – that in order for him to be successful at the big league level, he will have to increase his production on the offensive side of the ball.
While improvement will be expected of him as he gains more experience and matures, his defensive skills are more than enough to counterbalance whatever deficiencies he might have at the plate.
It’s far too early for comparisons of this nature, but take a look at the career and season-by-season statistics of one Ozzie Smith and you’ll find striking similarities to those of Simmons. With a career batting average of .262, Smith hit .258 and .211 in his first two seasons respectively (Simmons hit .289 last season and currently sits at .253). Smith only once batted over .300 in his career (1987) and only cracked .280 six times in a 19-year career.
Smith didn’t make his money, didn’t build his reputation, didn’t win games for his team through big at bats and offensive production. They called him “the Wizard” because of what he could do with his glove. Swift of foot, smooth as silk with unparalleled range, Smith made the plays that no one else could.
And Simmons does the same. With a defensive WAR that blows away the competition, it can be argued that at this point in his career the Atlanta shortstop is every bit as good as the Wizard.
And now he’s hitting. In the month of September Simmons is batting .421 with three home runs and eight RBI. His offensive outburst may not last, but the past week are at the very least indicative of things that could be to come from the Braves’ middle infielder. If he can keep up his improvement at the plate and maintain his skill in the field, look for Simmons to become a perennial All-Star.