It was a pleasure watching Braves' shortstop Andrelton Simmons in action Sunday afternoon at Turner Field. In this sequence of photos, Simmons makes two routine plays -- the second of a ground ball that third baseman Chris Johnson watches
A recent article by Jeff Passan at Yahoo sports had this to say:
Stitched in cursive on Andrelton Simmons' glove are two words: "God Given.
" If his highlight page were to showcase his next incredible play with "Simmons, God Given," that might be the only palatable three-word phrase to do him justice.
He realizes this, too. Simmons turned 24 a little more than a week ago, and ever since he signed with the Braves as a second-round pick out of Western Oklahoma State, he has been told his talent in the field is preternatural. Most teams liked Simmons as a pitcher – he threw 98 mph as a closer for the junior college that recruited him out of Curacao – but the Braves recognized an up-the-middle lottery ticket is far likelier to hit jackpot than another hard-throwing arm.
Simmons arrived in the majors last season with the reputation as the next great shortstop, and as much hype hangs on players upon their debuts, he was one of the few who exceeded it. And not just by a little, either. Braves first-base coach Terry Pendleton spent seven seasons playing third base alongside the greatest fielding shortstop ever, Ozzie Smith.
"And that's where this kid's getting to," Pendleton said. "The rest of us ooh and ahh about it. But I'm to the point now where when he doesn't do something I'm more surprised. And the kid's only got a year in the big leagues.
"He just has a knack for it. And you see when something else goes on, he's always thinking about the next thing. Or there's a play over here and he's thinking about what he can do with it. And those are the things that I watched Ozzie Smith do. And I'm quite sure, at Ozzie's age, he's doing the same thing."
For Simmons, it is just … him. He doesn't know how he slides, pops up and throws in one motion. Maybe it's the soccer he played from age 13 on – the game that taught him how to tackle and nearly stole him away from baseball full-time. He's not certain why he can always approach a ball exactly where he must.