Simmons impresses with more than just his glove
As Andrelton Simmons took ground balls during batting practice at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Stadium on the morning of March 7, I turned to Braves media relations representative Adrienne Midgley and said, “That kid might be the best defensive shortstop located in the state of Florida right now.”
It was just one of those statements made while getting an early look at a young player with tremendous skills. As the past few months and weeks have evolved, it has at least become a statement that might have some merit.
Simmons has provided the Braves a much better defensive infield since arriving on the Major League scene and managed to also make some key contributions at the plate. Through his first 12 games, he has notched two three-hit games, five multi-hit games (including three in a row entering Saturday) two home runs and a .333 batting average.
The early offensive success is not too surprising considering there are many young players who have made immediate impacts and then struggled once opposing clubs have had time to get a better sense about how to pitch to them. Whether he was struggling or producing in the manner that he is now, it is obviously too early to project exactly what Simmons might provide with his bat during the coming years.
But during his first two weeks in the Majors, Simmons has given us a better understanding of his mental makeup and baseball IQ.
Simmons showed great patience while batting with Jason Heyward on second base in the 10th inning of the June 7 win over the Blue Jays. Instead of jumping at a slider that he expected to see from Francisco Cordero, he held back because he could see Heyward had got a good jump with his attempt to steal third base. An errant throw to third base allowed Heyward to cruise toward the plate with the winning run.
“[Cordero] threw me a slider,” Simmons said. “I started chasing. I was thinking he saw me chasing so he’s going to try it again. I was looking for that slider and sure enough, he threw it. But I saw Jason start running. I thought he had a good jump, so I just took it. The catcher made a mistake of even throwing because he had the base already stolen.”
Then last night after making the first error of his career, Simmons highlighted a three-hit night by drilling a two-run sixth inning home run that gave the Braves a lead they would not squander.
Simmons also possesses the kind of confidence you like to see in young players. Asked about his early success at the plate, he said, “It’s not surprising if I’m feeling that good at the plate because I’m seeing the ball really well and I’m not missing my pitches. If I’m feeling like this, I’m expecting to see results.”
While Simmons might be confident, he has not shown signs of arrogance or cockiness. After delivering the biggest hit of his young career last night, he remained on the field and shook hands with each of the fans who were winners in the Braves’ Jerseys Off Our Backs promotion.