Andrelton Simmons: Improved Approach at the Plate?

Andrelton Simmons‘ claim to fame is his unrivaled ability to play defense at shortstop for the Atlanta Braves.  In his second and third seasons in the Majors, Simmons won back-to-back Gold Gloves and the 2013 Platinum Glove for his defensive dominance.

However, it seems to me that in the last several weeks, Andrelton Simmons has finally made some adjustments at the plate.  Could he and Braves Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer have found something that works for the free-swinging Simmons?  Will Andrelton Simmons be a high-average hitter in 2016?

-= Related: Atlanta Braves Swept By Mets, Lose 10-7 =-

In the second half of the season, Andrelton Simmons is hitting .287 with an OBP of .355.  The guy who was almost reluctant to take a free pass has 17 in 44 second half games. He only walked 21 times in 86 games in the first half of the 2015 MLB Season.

Andrelton Simmons turned 26 on September 4th and I was beginning to question if Simba would ever develop into an average Major League hitter.  Simmons had such a good defensive prowess that he spent essentially a month in AA Mississippi before being called up to the Big Leagues in June 2012.  While his glove was beyond Major League ready in 2012, I knew that his bat would suffer for some time due to the rapid promotion to the Atlanta Braves.

The 2013 World Baseball Classic was both a blessing and a curse for the young shortstop from Curaçao playing for the Netherlands.  He swung a powerful bat for the Dutch and gained even more exposure to his impressive game.  The problem was that Simmons began to think that he had 20+ home run power at the plate for the Atlanta Braves, routinely popping up to shortstop and recording sub-.300 OBPs for most of his Braves career.

It has taken a few years, but I believe that someone has broken through with Andrelton on how he can best hit at the Major League level.  That man is Braves Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer.  We all saw the first half renaissance of CF Cameron Maybin at the plate, nearly making an All-Star team.  Maybin was quick to say how much Seitzer helped him shorten his formerly loopy swing.  Simmons is following suit in becoming more of a line drive hitter than he has in the past.

We’re not seeing Simba swinging himself out of his shoes like he’s Ryan Klesko anymore.  Instead we’re seeing out new New York Mets killer at the plate, a career .335/.375/.450 hitter versus the Braves’ NL East rival.

If Andrelton Simmons continues to hit line drives with authority to all parts of the field, it is very possible that Simba could become a .280/.335/.375 hitter for our Atlanta Braves.  I’ve said this for seasons, but I would prefer to see Andrelton Simmons with an OBP in the mid-300’s than a slugging percentage in the 400’s.

His glove work is outstanding, but he will be even more valuable to the Atlanta Braves as a reliable offensive player that won’t pop up to short three times a game on four pitches.  His work with Kevin Seitzer is proving to us that he isn’t Jeff Francoeur or Vladimir Guerrero, tremendous talents whose lack of plate discipline was aggravating at times.

I hope that Andrelton Simmons continues refining his new approach at the plate in 2015 to become a more well-rounded player in 2016.  If Simmons can hit .275 in the first half of next season, he might have the offensive numbers to make his first All-Star Game.

In lost seasons like the 2015 Atlanta Braves are in the midst of, it’s the adjustments that players make when the rest of the baseball world isn’t watching that could make all the difference next spring.  Here’s to Andrelton Simmons’ continued success at the plate for the rest of the 2015 Major League Season.