Andrelton Simmons is clearly the cornerstone for the Atlanta Braves when they're on defense, even with his limited experience. He's fascinated so many in fact that ESPN Insider Scott Pratt has projected him to be the best defensive player in the Major Leagues for 2013.
Pratt notes that while Tyler Pastornicky cost the Braves 16 runs through the first two months of the year, Simmons saved 19 in just 49 games, providing a huge boost to his ranking.
"It may seem like a bold prediction to designate Simmons as the DRS leader before he has even played 50 games in the majors, but when you look at his numbers from his limited time in 2012, you may wonder if we are still too conservative. Simmons saved 19 runs with his stellar defense in only 49 games in 2012, likely one-third of the playing time he'll receive this season. He had the second-most runs saved at shortstop — still well short of Brendan Ryan's 27 runs saved — and the 10th-most runs saved at any position.
"So far, Simmons has not shown any real weaknesses in his defensive game, but he is perhaps most effective due to his lateral range. He, Ryan and J.J. Hardy were the only three shortstops to make seven or more plays above average to both their left and their right last season."
"Well short" may be a misnomer here, given that Simmons barely played one-third of a season and was just eight runs saved shy of Ryan. It very well could be possible that Simmons saves, both with his range and arm, upwards of 35 or 40 runs.
With a team that's already being lauded as an offensive juggernaut, Simmons will provide an anchor in the infield between two positions that the Braves' defense will struggle with. Look for Simmons to make some insane plays resulting in him picking up slack for Juan Francisco, Chris Johnson and Dan Uggla.
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