As the Atlanta Braves get ready to begin Spring Training within the next 30 days, they realize they’re a team that could possibly go under the radar for most of this season. The reason for that is they don’t have any true “superstar” players. They have Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton, but they don’t have a player that stands out as a true MVP candidate. However, they have a solid core that has the ability to make a deep postseason run. Over the next nine weeks I will look at each projected starting player and give a profile on what you can expect out of each of them.
The first player that I’m looking at is one of my favorite players in the league: Andrelton Simmons. It’s hard to define a player like Simmons because he takes on different roles for each game that he plays. In 2013, he proved that he can be a durable, everyday option for the Braves at shortstop.
Last season Simmons hit for an average of .248, which you probably think is low for a guy that is 23-years-old and a future All-Star player. However, the average that he hit last season was probably due to the way the Braves shuffled him around in the lineup. The only two spots in the order that he didn’t hit this past season were third and fifth. He was left in the leadoff spot for 64 games and struggled there hitting only .219. He was much more successful when he was moved down in the lineup and could do damage to other teams hitting either second, seventh or eighth. Another problem I feel he had was that he was trying to hit the ball out of Turner Field too often, and the over-swing was causing him to miss more pitches than he regularly would. He did hit 17 home runs, though, which shows that he could potentially have the power to hit 20 home runs a season for a few years to come. He doesn’t have blazing speed, stealing only six bases last season, but he is a guy that the Braves should be able to rely on in the batter’s box for the next few seasons.
In the field is where Simmons really showed off in 2013. It’s clear that he was good out there by seeing he won a Gold Glove award, but how impressive was he? He led the league with 499 assists and saved a total of 30 runs on defense. He also had the best range among all players in the major league and a fielding percentage of .981. He made plays left and right and has a cannon that can throw out pretty much any runner from deep in the hole.
The way he plays the field, Simmons is a key to the team for the next few seasons. He can field the ball better than any player in the league, and he is a much better hitter than the .248 he hit last season. I see Simmons being a threat for the Braves for the next couple of years.