There has been a wave of chatter in the national media about just how good Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons can be, but if ESPN’s Keith Law is correct, the sky is the limit for the 24-year-old.
In Law’s latest rankings of the top 25 players under the age of 25 ($), here is what he had to say about Simmons:
Current: The best defensive player in baseball, Simmons rates at the top of the 20-80 scouting scale in both his glove and his arm, and has continued to exceed everyone’s expectations, including Atlanta’s, at the plate, thanks to high contact rates that have reached absurd proportions this year. Simmons has yet to strike out through 45 plate appearances, which has helped balance out his low walk rates because he’s fast enough to create a few extra hits a year.
Future: Simmons’ career to date at the plate looks a lot like some other well-regarded shortstops, including Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin, and Omar Vizquel, none of whom was much to write home about with the stick early in his career, but all of whom posted high contact rates from their rookie years. Simmons is a better defender than Vizquel and has more pop than Omar or Ozzie, but he does have to develop the patience that Ozzie and Larkin both found by their mid-20s. The downside here is a better-fielding Shawon Dunston, but the upside is a Hall of Fame-caliber shortstop who sparks debates over whether he or the Wizard is the best defensive shortstop of all time.
At this point, virtually every Braves fan knows that Andrelton Simmons is a monster (and with good reason), but when you are throwing around names like Ozzie Smith and Barry Larkin (both Hall of Fame players), the hype begins to rise another level. Frankly, Simmons has been the best defensive player in baseball since the moment in arrived in the Major Leagues, and because he plays at perhaps the most important of “premium” positions, that carries an extreme amount of weight.
Still, Law’s assertion that Simmons has to continue to develop at the plate is certainly a factual one, and his career on-base percentage of .304 is less than ideal. There is no doubt about his natural abilities, and even if the general public may not always value defense in the way that they should, the baseball community has taken notice of Simmons for all the right reasons.