Andrelton Simmons became a rich man yesterday, inking a seven-year contract extension with the Atlanta Braves that will keep him with the club through 2021. As argued in this space, Simmons can contribute some with the bat, smacking 17 homers in 2013. But his calling card is his defense.
He’s the best defensive shortstop in baseball and there is little room for debate. Advanced defensive metrics love him (41 runs saved last year alone, according to Dewan’s plus/minus system!) He showcases every single skill you’d want to see in at the crucial infield defensive job.
Check out some of his slickest defensive plays below!
Range roving/getting dirty
Probably 150 feet between the two places these plays were made. Coming in hard to throw out the speedy Juan Pierre on a slow chopper, ranging deep to center and making a crazy, back-to-the-plate stab on a ball hit to no man’s land.
Just twisting and contorting and sliding and putting his body into very strange positions to make the required throw. A freak.
Just making great plays isn’t enough. Having the arm to carry this kind of range is a big part of what makes Simmons the best.
This is me, laughing out loud watching this play about 40 times in a row.
Where to begin with this? Incredibly hot shot in the hole, laser-guided missile throw to nab the fleet Adam Jones at first by a CONSIDERABLE margin. Ho-hum.
Totally, totally normal. See this all the time.
We’ve seen crazy reaction plays from Andrelton in this list but this catch is just straight up range. Range for days. Simmons makes a near-impossible catch on a he has no real right to reach, considering how deep into foul territory this ball finishes.
As Sam Miller notes in his Simmons’ roundup from last season, this play is noteworthy because Andrelton a) breaks for the third as the pitch is delivered b) makes a near impossible turn c) gets off a throw that is just good enough to get a pitcher running down the line. No matter, the feat stands on its own.
This is probably the best defensive play I’ve ever seen. I cannot remember ever seeing a shortstop range this far into center field to make a catch. But to pile this rocket to first base on top? Insane. Absolutely insane. What a play, what a fielder.
Just think! There a zillion other highlights this list neglects. Big bare-handed snares, on-the-money rifled relay throws and impressive scoops of throws in the dirt – Andrelton can do it all. The Braves locked up a dynamic player, the best at what he does.