Since entering the league in 2012 with the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons has been without a doubt the best defensive player in the league. He has three Gold Gloves and one Platinum Glove. His 168 runs saved is already ahead of 11x Gold Glove Award winner and Hall of Fame hopeful Omar Vizquel. In 2013 Simmons set the single season record for defensive WAR(5.5) at any position.
The most interesting thing about Andrelton Simmons’ defensive prowess is that he was not even drafted to be a shortstop. When the Braves drafted him with the 70th overall pick of the 2010 draft, he was drafted as a pitcher because of his incredible arm strength. He refused to sign though, unless he was promised to be a position player. It appears betting on himself was the right choice, and a no brainer for Atlanta when they saw his defensive instincts.
Even though Andrelton’s defense is already up there historically with the great Ozzie Smith, his name seems to get lost as one of the top shortstops in the game because of his lackluster offense in years past. This has not been the case thus far in 2018.
In fact, since getting traded to the Angels in 2016, Simmons has been getting better on offense every single year. His career slash line is .268/.317/.380, since the trade he has been slashing .287/.338/.407. In 2018, Simmons is batting .328 with a .397 OBP, which as you can tell is a vast improvement over his career averages.
Don’t think his numbers are coming in meaningless at bats either, in high leverage situations, Simmons is batting an absurd .429 with an OPS of 1.252, and when he comes up with men on base, he’s batting .333 with 23 RBIs.
With Simmons’ recent offensive surge, this makes the Angels a must-watch team alongside the best player in the league Mike Trout and pitching/hitting sensation Shohei Ohtani. However, the Angels must take advantage of Andrelton’s offense and give him more at-bats and move him up in the batting order.
For the majority of the season, most of Simmons’ at bats have come batting 6th in the lineup, even though Albert Pujols who bats cleanup and Kole Calhoun who has seen many at bats in the 5 hole have been less than stellar to say the least. Pujols has a wRC+ of 83 this season, and Calhoun is having a historically bad offensive season with a wRC+ of 9. Compare this to Simmons, who as of today, has a wRC+ of 140, which ranks 14th in the American League.
Andrelton Simmons’ defense has already made him must watch television, and has made his mark as one of, if not the defensive player of all time, and if he continues to get better offensively, this will make the Angels a serious threat come October.