The acquisition of Andrelton Simmons last winter came as a surprise, but in the end he was accepted into open arms by Angels fans by and large, and that’s probably because the trade all but guaranteed one important thing: defense.
Simmons is the reigning MLB defensive player of the year, and forgetting the previous years’ highlights with the Braves and just going off of what we’ve seen him do in a Halos uniform, it’s easy to see why: he’s got an otherworldly glove and to say he has a cannon for an arm is kind of an understatement.
The defense of Simba is bonafide, legit, tried and true; the only question mark was his bat, but if what we’ve seen this month is any indication, then he’s definitely trending upward in that category.
Simmons was already getting better at the dish, as he had slight improvements in his last year with Atlanta, but it was still nothing that was going to put him at the top of a lineup, let alone at the top of an MLB leader board. Then, he began his Angels career and what we saw was more of the 2013-2014 Simmons, that would top out in the .240 AVG range.
My, how things have changed.
In March, I tried to suss out what to expect from Simba at the plate this year, and going forward as the Angels shortstop of the future. The good news was that he had improved in important areas, like contact, in his last year with the Braves and there was reason to believe an athlete of his caliber still had his best hitting ahead of him.
The torrid July that Simmons is currently showcasing at the plate is only adding fuel to that idea. Whatever adjustment he made from the first couple months of the season, when he was hitting in the .245-.250 range, to now, it’s been monumental. A recent piece in the LA Times suggests he went back to a toe tap he’d done in 2014, shortening up his swing. Whatever it is, gimme gimme gimme some more.
Before the season started, I had said that if Simmons can continue to build on his plate discipline and contact rates, and get his average up in the .275-.280 range, then it’d be a boon for the Halos and Billy Eppler. As of today, Simba is batting .286!
This is all on the back of an insane July, literally his best month at the dish in his MLB career and it isn’t even close. He’s batting .426 so far this month, with his previous best AVG for one month coming in 2012, his rookie year (June of that year he batted .333 in 25 games). He’s swinging at more pitches inside the zone, and he’s making more contact on those pitches. He’s also making more contact on pitches outside the zone, and his current rate of swings and misses is as low as it was in his last year in Atlanta. In short, he’s checking off all the boxes for a player that’s still improving his offense.
It gets even better, though.
If we look at all MLB players in the past 30 days, he’s got the 2nd best AVG (Jose Altuve being #1), 6th best OBP, and 17th overall in wRC+. These are all numbers that put him with the game’s best hitters, rarefied air for a guy that many think of as an elite glove and nothing more. Andrelton Simmons is on fire right now, like we’ve never seen him before, and I’m loving it.
Could this be a sign of what we see from Simba in the future? He’s doing all the small things correctly, and he’s made in-season adjustments that have turned some heads. Either way, we’ve been seeing the best of the best from Simmons’ bat this month, and coupled with the mind-melting defensive plays we see from him on the regular, it’s giving me fits of pure joy thinking about him in an Angels uniform for years to come.