I tweeted this recently about Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons when the Braves were in town to play the Phillies:
Andrelton Simmons never hit more than 3 HR in a season entering 2013. He just hit his 14th.
— Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley) September 6, 2013
The 24-year-old is enjoying his first full season in the Majors and has already put himself in great company with his defensive showing. David Schoenfield went over this recently on the Sweet Spot blog:
The crux is that Simmons is having one of the greatest defensive seasons of all time, whether you go by the metrics, or by the eye test. Maybe his reputation isn’t quite at Ozzie-level yet, which is understandable because it takes time to build a reputation, and Simmons is in his second season.
At ESPN, we like to use Baseball Info Solutions’ Defensive Runs Saved metric, which BIS has tracked with video review since 2003. According to DRS, here are the best defensive seasons since 2003:
Since that article was posted three weeks ago, Simmons added two more runs and now sits at +39.
Despite the now-15 homers, Simmons is still a below-average hitter, sitting with a .250/.297/.392 line and a .302 weighted on-base average. When one adjusts for position, though, and he ranks at about the league average.
The Phillies have a similarly light-hitting, defensively-proficient player of their own in Freddy Galvis. Last night, Galvis hit his second home run in six games since being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, giving him six on the season, double last year’s output in slightly fewer trips to the plate. The most he had ever hit in one season was eight in 2011 between Double-A Reading and Triple-A.
Galvis and Simmons are similar in a lot of ways. Both stand within two inches of six feet tall and both are listed at 170 pounds. Both are in their mid-20’s. Both have made offensive progress this year. Both walk around the same rate (which isn’t much). Both have shown more or less the same amount of power in their careers thus far. Both have displayed below-average contact abilities, leading to a BABIP in the .260 area. Both have great defensive prowess.
Where they differ: Galvis is a switch hitter, strikes out a lot more, isn’t quite as good defensively (while still being above-average overall), and is more versatile with experience, even playing the outfield at times this season.
I would mention Manny Machado here as well, as there are some similarities, but he is about two and a half years younger so his development has been significantly faster.
While it isn’t the most likely scenario that Galvis finds a way to cut down on his strikeouts, improve his quality of contact, maintain his newfound power, and continue to improve defensively, Simmons has shown that it isn’t out of the question. The Phillies are thinking about their future at shortstop a bit earlier than they expected as Jimmy Rollins has been a disappointment. Prospects Roman Quinn and J.P. Crawford are still three years away at minimum. In the event Rollins is simply done being anything better than a replacement-level shortstop, the Phillies shouldn’t be afraid to plug in Galvis and see what happens when he is allowed to play on a full-time basis. With Cody Asche at third and Chase Utley at second, along with Galvis, the Phillies could once again have one of the better infield defenses in the league.