Andrelton Simmons anointed as best MLB shortstop by ESPN writer


After a season in which he struggled mightily at the plate, many fans of the Atlanta Braves seemed to have soured a bit on shortstop Andrelton Simmons. However, that is not the case of everyone, and one of the best minds in the baseball world, ESPN’s Buster Olney ($), has anointed Simmons as the best shortstop in the game today.

Olney is quick to reference the offensive struggles of Simmons in his piece, and they are certainly true after a year in which he posted a slash line of .244/.286/.331 with just seven home runs and 44 runs scored. However, Olney quotes a highly ranked MLB executive in saying that Simmons is “the best defensive shortstop, easily — a great defender at a position where defense is the most important thing,”, and that matters a great deal.

For further evidence of his dominance on the defensive side of the game, the 25-year-old Simmons led all shortstops in defensive runs saved with 28 (finishing second in all of MLB to former teammate Jason Heyward), and the defensive wizard led the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference. Advanced metrics are not everything when it comes to defensive evaluation, but you won’t find a credible source that references Simmons as anything other than the best defender at the position in baseball, and the importance of defense at that position cannot be overstated.

It is fair to argue (and Olney does) that other shortstops (i.e. Troy Tulowitzki) have much higher ceilings, but in terms of daily impact and consistency, it is impossible to overlook Andrelton Simmons. He may never hit 17 home runs again (as he did in 2013), but Simmons can be the best shortstop in baseball by simply being a league-average hitter from the shortstop position (an admittedly low bar), and Atlanta Braves fans should be thankful to have him locked up to a long-term deal.