Skills development can be tough to predict. When a player excels in one facet of the game—especially one that relies so heavily on athleticism—teams hope and pray that those skills can spill over to other elements of that player’s game, turning him into a multi-tool star. Few players in recent memory have made teams wish harder for that kind of growth than Andrelton Simmons.
In each of his first three full seasons, Simmons was the best and most valuable defensive player in baseball. Per Baseball Info Solutions, he saved an incredible 94 more runs than the average shortstop during that stretch. The quick-twitch reflexes that made him such an incredible fielder, combined with Simmons bopping 17 homers and striking out just 55 times in his first full big league season, fostered a sprinkle of optimism that maybe he could grow into an all-around star—even if his phenomenal glove always outstripped the value of his bat.
Finally, four years later, we might finally be getting there. Simmons is on pace to set career highs in nearly every offensive category. He’s batting .278/.331/.426, a pace that would net career bests in on-base percentage and slugging. He’s on track to hit 18 homers and steal 26 bases, both of which would also be high-water marks for his career. He’s even walking more often than ever before, while keeping his elite contact skills intact.
This is why the Braves gave him that $58 million extension back in 2014. They trusted his defense to remain elite, but also held out at least a little hope that his bat might one day come around. Combine those two facets of Simmons’ game, and he’s on pace to be something close to a five-win player this season. That’s borderline star territory, great news for an Angels club that continues to defy expectations with Mike Trout still missing in action.