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A bounceback from Simmons is a key piece to the 2019 playoff puzzle

The most important player we need to return to form is not Kole Calhoun.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

“But just look at his WAR!”

Stop it. Just stop it. Yes, the 5.5 fWAR and 6.2 bWAR are prominently featured on Andrelton Simmons’ pages. Yes, those are elite figures. Yes, I know how to define “bounceback candidate.” It doesn’t matter what your 3-second appeal to sabermetrics has to say. Andrelton Simmons returning to form is one of the single most crucial elements to a successful 2019.

It was a long time ago, so you would be forgiven for not remembering what kind of numbers Simba was putting up early on in 2018. After the 1st inning on June 5th, his slash line stood at .330/.399/.460 and he was one of the best bats on the team. His walk rate was a very solid and uncharacteristic 9.8% and he was in the midst of an historic stretch that saw him make headlines for not striking out for over a month! It’s all starting to come back now, but how did it end again?

There’s a reason you forgot that Andrelton Simmons derailed his season by slipping and falling down the stairs while attempting to high-five Ian Kinsler. The sprain he would suffer that evening would be drowned out by big news. This was Andrew Heaney’s birthday, the same day he threw a 1-hit complete game shutout against the Royals’ young rising star Brad Keller. Little did we know that this joyous occasion would come to be the beginning of the end.

Simmons would return from his “little DL trip” on June 16th and things were not the same. He would finish the month of June with a .291/.316/.382 slash line. He would then go on to do the following the rest of the way.

July - .250/.278/.380

August - .280/.302/.420

September - .261/.292/.370

Worst of all, his strikeout rate in the second half was a sky-high 11.5% while his walk rate was a career-low 2.9%. His contact rate stayed pretty close to the same, and his swinging strike rate still stayed low, so it appears as though he was playing through pain, but we can’t really know for sure.

What is clear, however, is that the Angels played 42-50 with him hitting like he did in 2014 and 2015 with Atlanta at best. A little less spring in his step and a less impressive defensive display at shortstop combined with his offense for one of the most underwhelming halves in his career.

That being said, it is important that he gets back to what he provided in 2017. Being so unbelievably good for the first two months and skating by on defense the next 4 months will get you that 5-6 win season, but that is misleading. The Angels don’t need two MVP months with negative value the rest of the way. They need a consistently spectacular Andrelton Simmons back, or they will miss the playoffs again.