Did you see that play yesterday! Wow! Or maybe you saw this one? Or this one? Young Andrelton Simmons is already making quite an impression. While no one player is going to be responsible for any team's success, the Braves are now 4-1 with their new shortstop. And the Braves' pitchers have given up a total of seven runs since he was installed at the position for the team. Of course this next stat could be quite meaningless, but Fangraphs already gives Simmons a +1.2 runs for his defense after just five games. Despite the extremely small sample size, Simmons has already become must-see baseball.
The beautiful symmetry of the Braves employing Simmons is that he was born in Curacao. It seems the Braves had another player from there who made a big splash for the team back in 1996. Both changed the scene with their defense and the former became quite the offensive force in his career. The Braves do not need Simmons to hit, just man his position like he is so far. But don't count him out offensively either.
Again, you cannot base much of an argument on five games, But Simmons has already hit a double and a triple in his twenty plate appearances and has also walked twice. Heck, Pastornicky walked only six times in nine times as many games. Simmons has only struck out twice, so it is not like he looks over-matched. Projections do not peg him much above a four percent walk rate, but he was averaging ten percent in the minors and his short minor league career shows a guy who is not prone to strikeouts. Those projections have him batting .275 without much pop (.358) and a .313 on-base percentage. The Braves will take that.
And the slugging projection might be low. Simmons had already hit three homers in the minors this season and yet, is only projected to hit one with the Braves. With pitchers more around the plate in the majors than in the minors, he could hit five to ten homers before his season is over. We will have to see.
How did this guy make it to the second round in the 2010 draft? Shortstops are one of the true market inequity in baseball. You can count on the fingers of one hand the good ones in the majors. A guy with his fielding upside had to be a steal for the Braves in the second round.
It is a long season and how Simmons holds up to the major league spotlight will be noted in time. But the shortstop has made a splash thus far. His team is hot and his pitchers are pitching like they got a shot in the arm since he arrived. Again, Andrelton Simmons has already become must-see baseball. This old observer can't wait to see more of what he can do.