Saturday, August 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Braves want to lock Andrelton Simmons up as well

Andrelton Simmons, AKA "Phase IV" of the Braves´ offseason extension plan. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)
Andrelton Simmons, AKA "Phase IV" of the Braves' offseason extension plan. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

And the Braves’ horrible march toward present and future dominance goes on.

We had hardly breathed word of their deals with Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran when Craig Kimbrel’s four-year, $42 million extension slipped through. The Braves have secured the 25-year-old closer’s blistering numbers, despite rumors that keeping their core together could be quarrelsome. They now have one of the NL’s top first baseman, a talented young starter, and the league’s best closer locked through at least 2017.

Now, their methodical targeting ray has turned to shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The slick-fielding 24-year-old matches his Braves colleagues in youth. His glove is his clearest attribute, as he has proven time and time and time again.

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  • It comes from Simmons’ playing deeper at short, where he can get to more balls (he says he feels more comfortable moving to his left back there) and still make the play with his frightening arm. With more playing time in 2013, his UZR jumped from 11 to 24.6.

    In his less than two years in the Braves infield, he’s saved 60 runs, 41 coming last season in his over 1300 innings at short. Despite this, defense is not the most lucrative of traits in Major League Baseball. The ability to generate runs is far more rewarding financially, while merely preventing them may lead to a smaller payday. But even with a .248 average and a .692 OPS, Simmons still notched 14 points worth of NL MVP votes. Somebody values his glove.

    But his soft underbelly is the pop-up, which he hits almost more than anybody in baseball, and certainly more than anyone else in the NL. His at-bats may not be sexy, but he’s still figuring his swing out, even making some adjustments between 2012 and 2013. With time on his side, there’s no reason to assume Simmons will eternally be something for the Braves to worry about at the plate.

    The worst possible outcome for the NL East has occurred; the Braves know how fortunate they are, and are putting the players into place to keep the division theirs for years to come. It has been expensive - The Braves have locked up $209 million and 18 years this offseason on three players. But they're catching promising talents at the start of their primes. The only question is who of their skilled, fledgling core will they extend next?

    Justin Klugh Philly.com
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