Four-time Gold Glove winner Andrelton Simmons is retiring, his representatives at ISE Baseball announced on Instagram earlier this week. The defensive stalwart last appeared in the majors in July 2022.
Simmons was a second-round draftee of the Braves in 2010 out of an Oklahoma junior college. There was some thought he might be better suited as a pitcher at the time thanks to his elite arm strength. Atlanta stuck with him as a shortstop, where prospect evaluators projected Simmons as a plus defender. He exceeded even the loftiest reviews of his glove, quite likely becoming the best defensive infielder of his generation.
The Braves first called him up in June 2012, a little before his 23rd birthday. Simmons capably held down shortstop from that point forward, putting up roughly league average hitting with strong defensive reviews. He started that year’s Wild Card game and cemented himself as an everyday player for the better part of the next decade.
Simmons took what would be a career-high 658 plate appearances the following season. He connected on a personal-best 17 homers with a .248/.296/.396 slash line. While that wasn’t particularly imposing offense, he rated as a staggering 30 runs above average with the glove. That earned him his first Gold Glove and down-ballot MVP support and helped the Braves to an NL East title.
The following offseason, Atlanta signed Simmons to a seven-year extension. His $58MM guarantee established a new record for players with between one and two years of MLB service. Simmons’ power dipped over the next two seasons, but he continued to rack up eye-popping metrics and highlights on defense. He won a second Gold Glove in 2014 and arguably should’ve received the award again the following year.
Atlanta missed the postseason in both seasons, however, kicking off a rebuild. During the 2015-16 offseason, the Braves dealt Simmons to the Angels for a prospect package headlined by Sean Newcomb. While the left-hander had an inconsistent tenure in Atlanta, Simmons spent the next few seasons offering his typical combination of slightly below-average hitting and superlative defense.
He’d win two more Gold Gloves in Orange County, finishing in the top 15 in AL MVP balloting in 2017 and ’18. He was credited with 41 Defensive Runs Saved in 2017, easily the highest single-season mark by a shortstop since the statistic was introduced in 2002. Simmons owns three of the top 10 and six of the top 30 DRS grades on record at the infield’s most demanding position. Unsurprisingly, he easily holds the top career mark among shortstops over the past two decades. His estimated 201 runs saved in more than 10,000 innings is 82 runs higher than second-place finisher Adam Everett.
Simmons remained with the Halos through 2020. He signed a $10.5MM deal with the Twins for the 2021 campaign. While he continued to play stellar defense, his offense cratered. He hit .223/.283/.274 in 131 games, setting the stage for a modest $4MM deal with the Cubs. Simmons mustered only a .173/.244/.187 line in 35 contests for Chicago and was released midseason.
He didn’t sign with a major league team from that point forward. The Curacao native represented the Netherlands in last spring’s World Baseball Classic, as he had in 2013 and ’17. He saw action at third base in an infield also comprising Didi Gregorius, Jonathan Schoop and Xander Bogaerts. Simmons went 2-11 in four games to close his playing career.
Simmons appeared in parts of 11 MLB seasons. He tallied more than 4,800 plate appearances over 1,226 contests, hitting .263/.312/.366 with 70 home runs. He was one of the game’s more reliable contact bats, striking out in fewer than 10% of his plate appearances. Simmons will be better remembered as one of the best defensive shortstops the game has ever seen.
FanGraphs valued his career around 25 wins above replacement, while Baseball Reference credited him with 37 WAR. B-Ref pegs his earnings just under $72MM. MLBTR congratulates Simmons on his excellent run and wishes him the best in retirement.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.