Though Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons was not eligible for NL Rookie of the Year honors due to the 166 at bats recorded in 2012, this season marked the first full campaign in the young career of the slick-fielding native of Curacao. Suffice it to say, the franchise has found the long-term answer at short as the 24 year old has quickly turned himself into a cornerstone of the team.
Over the course of 49 games last year, Simmons flashed a level of defensive proficiency not often associated with such an inexperienced player. Even more impressive, he was displaying that talent at arguably the most difficult position on the diamond. Heading into 2013, the expectations in the field were high to say the least.
Simmons far exceeded those expectations by putting forth what many have deemed a Gold Glove caliber effort with his largely unrivaled combination of range and arm strength. Only time will tell if receiving the award is something that lies in his near future, but the evidence is there to bestow status as the favorite. Simmons led the league in assists and putouts at his position while finishing fourth in fielding percentage at .981.
To really understand the caliber of Simmons’ capabilities, deeper digging is required. Taking a look at the fielding leaderboards over at FanGraphs.com shines a light on his real value as a defender. Simmons led all of the Majors in Defensive Runs Saved with 41. In fact, that is the highest single-season mark for any player since Baseball Info Solutions began tracking the statistic in 2003.
Voting for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award rarely goes as expected across the board. However, if this particular writer had a vote, the decision for NL shortstop would be as easy as Simmons makes his job appear on a daily basis.