LA Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who has been known more for his defense, has come around at the plate as well which should not be overlooked
In spite of LA Angels slugger Albert Pujols getting his 3,000 hit and Garrett Richards finally having a solid outing, Andrelton Simmons had yet another solid hitting performance Friday night, recording three hits in the Angels 5-0 victory.
When Billy Eppler took over the reins for the Angels’ new general manager position in 2015, his main concern was strengthening the middle infield. Because Eppler values defense, he traded for the former Braves’ shortstop who is regarded as the best defensive shortstop in the game.
The move was definitely controversial. Not only because the Angels will give up two of their best pitching prospects- Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis – but also because Erick Aybar was involved in the trade.
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In fact, during the 2015 season, Simmons and Aybar’s hitting statistics are almost identical. Simmons slash line for 2015 is .265/.321/.338 compared to Aybar’s .270/.301/.338. Throw in two extra pitching prospects, and it looks like the Braves may have won the trade at the time.
However, Eppler saw better things coming for Simmons offensively which is why he proceeded with the trade.
“They are both high-level athletes, with very quick-twitch tendencies that help drive their athleticism,” Eppler said in an interview with Jeff Fletcher of OCR when comparing Simmons to Yankees’ shortstop Didi Gregorius. “They were strong on the defensive side of the game and young with some underlying process characteristics that give you some degree of hope that they have a chance to get better offensively.”
The trade has paid off. While it’s still early into 2018 MLB season, Simmons is off to his best start in his career as a hitter. In 30 games played, Simmons slash line is .339/.400/.523, all career-highs. Besides that, he’s also beginning to show some pop off the end of his bat as well.
It’s also worth mentioning how much better he’s gotten. Since the start of 2016, Simmons slash line has improved each season. In 2017, Simmons led the team in WAR while winning a Gold Glove in the process. Simmons eventually finished eighth in AL MVP voting that year.
Now, it’s 2018 and Simmons hasn’t let up. He’s currently tied for third in WAR this year, 2.1, and has more walks than strikeouts. He shows great plate discipline which he credits to his improved success.
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“Being more disciplined, that’s it really,” Simmons said in an interview with Avery Yang of MLB.com. “It has made a big, big difference. It’s what I’ve built on the past couple of years: just trying not to swing at stuff that’s hard to hit. It’s Going to cost me a strikeout or two here and there. But I think I’d rather be doing that than swinging at everything that might be called.
Although the spotlight is placed on Shohei Ohtani or Albert Pujols, Simmons is having a career year. It looks as though Eppler made the right decision.