Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons is the best defensive player in baseball. I’m usually a person that is open to discussion and debate, but not with this topic. If you think there is a better player on defense than Simmons you’re just crazy. I am very high on Simmons; I think I ranked him much higher than any of the other Rant Sports writers that took part in our Top 50 MLB Players series. I don’t know if that means I am wrong or if it means the other guys are wrong. It is up to you, the reader, to decide.
Simmons could have made this list, in my opinion, even if he didn’t get a single hit in 2013. I’m being completely serious. He plays at the most important position on the field from a defensive perspective. In 2013, Simmons led all other MLB shortstops by far with a 23.9 UZR/150. The next highest was Yunel Escobar of the Tampa Bay Rays with a 12.2 UZR/150. Simmons nearly doubled the second-best total. His 24.6 UZR more than doubled Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar‘s second-best 10.9 UZR. Simmons makes plays that make jaws drop seemingly every night, but he also makes the easy play most of the time.
Simmons was below average offensively in 2013, yet he still managed to put up a 4.7 fWAR. If I haven’t convinced you by now that Simmons is the best defensive player in baseball then I’m probably not going to. In 658 plate appearances he hit .248/.296/.396 with a 91 wRC+. He does do one thing that is extremely impressive on offense — put the ball in play. Last season, Simmons struck out in only 8.4 percent of his plate appearances.
I couldn’t care less about Simmons’ offensive statistics. If Simmons ever turns into a good hitter that would be a huge bonus for the Braves. If a shortstop that is by far the best player defensively in MLB doesn’t belong on a top 50 players list, then I would love to hear your reasoning. For me? He belongs in the top ten.