When this season was just getting started, I took a look at Andrelton Simmons’ prowess at the plate, and how in his last year or so in Atlanta, he began to see some increased success, while also wondering if he’d be able to continue that trajectory with his new team. Well, we’re in the last, waning days of the season, so no better time to revisit this topic. The current verdict? He’s still improving, but not exactly in the areas you’d hope for.
The one thing that sticks out is his batting average. We’re seeing Simba with the best batting average of his career, currently sitting at .283 and has been steady around that area for at least a month now. That’s almost 20 points higher than his 2015 tally, and nearly 40 points higher than the two seasons before that.
Hey, that’s pretty awesome, and is definitely better than I was hoping for back in March. This tells me one important thing: this guy is still evolving as a player and we’re still a ways out from seeing Final Form Simba. That’s the good news; he’s learning and only becoming more well-rounded.
The bad news? Well, pretty much all of his other numbers at the dish ranger from below-average to downright horrible, and we’re talking big ones, like OBP and SLG. His OBP is currently at .321, which is identical to what he put up in his last Braves season. Some of our readers, and myself included, were hoping that we’d see the OBP tick up to the .335 or .340 range, basically coming closer to the league baseline of about .350. So far, that ain’t happening.
Both his OPS (.670) and wRC+ (85) are good for 21st overall for MLB shortstops, and even his skills on the base paths put him 22nd overall for MLB shortstops (his BsR is a paltry -1.8...this number tells us how many runs, if any, he’s creating on the bases). But hey! He’s batting .283, which makes him the shortstop with the 8th highest BA in the big leagues. Well, too bad there is more to hitting than batting average, otherwise we could pop the bubbly over such a number.
There’s really no getting around it...that batting average is cool and all, but gets hard to swallow when you see the rest of the slash line. We are only partly out of the woods with Simba’s bat.
Luckily for Simmons, though, hitting isn’t everything, as there’s also defense to consider, and in the American League only one other SS (Francisco Lindor) has a higher Defensive Runs Above Average than Simmons (Simba currently at 16.3, Lindor has an MLB leading 23.5). So we’re still getting plenty of value out of Simmons, mostly in the form of elite-level defense. But when you throw a nice little BA in the .280 range in there, things start to brighten up even more.
And to be fair, there are some other positives to take away from Simmons’ hitting skills in 2016. For instance, he’s currently batting .394 in “high leverage” situations, .299 when men are on base and .286 when runners are in scoring position. So there...with the lackluster OBP and SLG withstanding, I could still find some good news about Simba’s hitting.
He’s got a ways to go still, but again, the important thing to remember here is this: he’s only getting better. With some work, this guy can get that OBP up, even if we may never see the slugging get to the .400 mark on a regular basis. For now, world class glove with good batting average is something to hang his hat on, but throw in just a middling or league average OBP in there, and you have an even studlier shortstop in your midst.