Great highlights of Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons’ defense can almost be found at random on any baseball website allowed to show them. His manager Fredi Gonzalez adopted a nice answer when reporters as him what is Simmons’ best defensive gem at shortstop. Gonzalez smiles and says, “The next one.” It isn’t a cop-out answer because most of the time it is true. Certainly each game provides at least the proof that he has one of the more accurate and powerful arms in all of Major League Baseball. What about his offense though?
There is little debate that Simmons is among the top two or three defensive shortstops in the game today. His defensive WAR is tops in the majors. Gonzalez claimed earlier in the season that Simmons would provide around 80 runs when you combine the 40 he will drive in with the 40 he will save. While that is a nice statistic, it shortchanges Simmons a little bit on offense and possibly on defense as well.
All of his current accolades aside, Simmons still has potential to be realized in the future; even the near future. Defensively he isn’t going to get worse. It isn’t likely that he will get better because he is already so disciplined with when he throws his hardest how he fields each and every ball. Offensively he could improve more though.
This season he has 17 home runs and 57 RBI with a week to play. That is actually more than the Braves probably figured they would get for him and it includes a lot of time spent at the top of the batting order where he did not fare that well. Still those numbers are better than his previous minor league numbers which would suggest that he is getting better with each season and could improve more next year and the year after that.
His batting average of .246 isn’t as good as he probably will hit at his peak so if we assume that number goes up in 2014, his power and RBI numbers will go up as well. Think about a player with his impact defensively having as many as 30 homers and 80 RBI. It would be basically a catcher-type player when it comes to MVP voting is concerned. I believe that he could be an MVP caliber player within the next two seasons. We’ll see how the offense develops but at least the defense will be a blast to watch in the meantime.