If you watch Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons for an afternoon, you’ll probably think he’s a darn good shortstop. If you watch him make one his extraordinary plays, you’ll see that he is much better than that. If you watch him for an entire season, you’ll likely agree that he’s the best shortstop walking on Earth right now.
However, I doubt one would expect him to be so outstanding that he’s considered among the best of all time after just one full year in the majors.
It’s well known that defensive metrics aren’t perfect, but they are still derived from scientific analysis and shouldn’t be tossed aside. There were three players who were so proficient defensively in 2013 that they broke into the top-10 single season defensive performances ever. According to Baseball-Reference’s measurements, Carlos Gomez and Manny Machado both broke into the top 10 with a 4.6 and 4.4 defensive WAR respectively.
Neither of those compare to the new reigning all-time leader, however. Simmons, who posted a 5.4 dWAR, toppled longtime leader (since 1906) Terry Turner, who did it at age 25. Simmons did it age at age 23.
Where does Ozzie Smith, the famed defensive expert of the St. Louis Cardinals from the 80s, stand on the matter? His best season was in 1989 at age 34 where he posted a 4.7 dWAR.
Simmons’ offense really started to come around in the latter part of the season as well. He jumped on the power train and started belting home runs and doubles at a decent rate as the season neared its end. At only age 23, Simmons has upside we have really yet to see. It’s likely he will break his own defensive record at some point and if his bat keeps coming around, who knows where this kid’s career ends up going. Maybe Cooperstown — time will tell.
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