LA Angels Biggest Surprises of 2017: #3
The LA Angels may have finished their 2017 season earlier than they wished. However, they definitely discovered some solid building blocks that seemingly came out of nowhere. Amongst these surprises was the offensive rise of a defensive mastermind.
The LA Angels took a huge risk when they traded for Andrelton Simmons prior to the 2016 season. They gave up their number one prospect in Sean Newcomb, along with Erick Aybar and another top prospect.
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Simmons was a human highlight reel as shortstop, but had never put it together at the plate. However, 2017 showed Halo fans and the MLB world that Simmons is one of the best shortstops in the league. Him and Mike Trout together are one of the best duos in the league.
Prior to his move to Anaheim, Simmons had accumulated a .256 batting average. He also 168 RBI’s and 197 runs. Once he was dealt to the Angels, he began changing his approach at the plate. Instead of a large step with his swing, he changed it to a check step. This takes away power from his swing and instead substitutes solid contact.
This line drive approach at the plate helped Simmons to his best season yet. He had career-highs in batting average (.278), runs (77), and RBI’s (69). He also had his best season yet on the base paths, swiping 19 bags. Simmons served as a huge part of the lineup all season long. He consistently served as the best bat in the middle of the lineup, helping the offense stay alive during their many comeback wins.
Simmons finished the season with 7.1 Wins Above Replacement. This ranked second among shortstops in the majors, behind only Jose Altuve. His 3.9 offensive WAR was the highest mark of his career. His defense was amazing as usual, and gave the Angels a true franchise cornerstone alongside Mike Trout.
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While his offensive game was seemingly out of nowhere, it was a work in progress. He had a .281 average in 2016, but did not play enough games for it to qualify as his career high. Ever since Simmons arrived in Anaheim, his approach at the plate has evolved to make him one of the best shortstops in the game.