When I originally conceived of a feature on Andrelton Simmons I was going to run out a parallel with Ozzie Smith. Both are guys I view as Defense first Shortstops – Smith Developed hitting production later in his career, a path I thought Simmons may hop on.
2014 Phungo #64 Andrelton Simmons
Looking inside the numbers I found a more interesting and more contemporary comp in another Shortstop the Phillies will see this week Troy Tulowitzki.
Agewise Simmons career arc started a year behind Tulo’s but both had good first full seasons. Last year Simmons (at age 23) hit 17 HR with 59 RBI which is pretty good however his slash line of .248/.296/.396 (86 ops+) was less impressive. Tulo’s first full (2007 at age 22) yielded 24 HR 99 RBI and a .291/.359/.479 (109 OPS+) which earned him a 2nd place finish in the Rookie of the Year balloting,
A year later Tulowitzki regressed to .263/.332/.401 (85 ops+) with only 8 homers, which is pretty close to what Simmons put up in 2013.
The stat that drew these two players together for me was Defensive WAR, both players led their respective seasons (Simmons 2013, Tulo 2007) in Defensive WAR, both did it as Shortstops and both did it at a young age in their first full seasons. That Defensive WAR crown is for all positions, not just shortstops – The traditional analysis back up the SABRmetrics as well - in 2013 Simmons led all NL Shortstops in Assists and Putouts, six years prior Tulowitzki did the same.
At this early juncture of the 2014 season both Tulowitzki and Simmons are hitting well, Tulo is NL leader in Defensive WAR. If the two stay healthy they could be an interesting young player and veteran SS pair to follow for the next couple of seasons.
I am not sure when I became aware of the Natural sign at the Phillies Ballpark. I know I thought it would be cool to capture the right player with the sign as a backdrop. Fortunately Andrelton Simmons had a great season and took pre-game fielding in the right spot for me. I was very happy to get the shot and was happy to put it on a Phungo Card.
For 2014 we have added "Hardware" notes on a few cards. For any of the Major Awards I could track down and World Series winners I have added some sort of emblem on the card. Andrelton has "NL GG SS 2013" for NL Gold Glove Shortstop in 2013. It is a nice addition that I plan to bring forward for future sets.