With the baseball Hall of Fame ballot out yet again, talks will be reignited about active players who belong in the Hall of Fame. Everybody will throw around names like Albert Pujols, Clayton Kershaw, and the newly retired Buster Posey. Names like Freddie Freeman, Jacob deGrom, and Mookie Betts will be talked about as well, but there is sure to be one name that you would be unlikely to hear from just about anybody: Andrelton Simmons.
Just this past season, Andrelton Simmons eclipsed the 10-year mark of his career, making him eligible for Hall of Fame voting. Although he is now eligible, the odds of Simmons actually being elected to the Hall of Fame are slim, however diving into the stats, Simmons may be more worthy than it seems on the surface level.
The Case for Simmons
First and foremost, the best thing Simmons has going for him is his absolutely stellar defense. Through 10 seasons, Andrelton Simmons has a career 197 DRS, which is only five shy of the all-time career mark of 202, set by Adrián Beltré. Simmons also ranks 13th all-time in defensive WAR at 28.1. While Simmons sits at 13th, he has only accumulated 4731 plate appearances in his major league career, while no player above Simmons has amassed less than 6045. Simmons has essentially two fewer seasons than anybody ranked higher than him in career defensive WAR. Coupled with this, the most important stat to notice is that Simmons is only 16.1 dWAR away from the top spot, which is held by Ozzie Smith, who will serve as the benchmark for Simmons’ HOF case.
Ozzie Smith was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 2002, receiving 91.74% of the vote, which is 32nd all-time. Anybody who knows baseball knows Ozzie Smith and knows of his wizardry with his glove. Receiving the nickname “The Wizard”, Smith is the career leader in dWAR at 44.2 over his 19-year career. He racked up 13 Gold Gloves, made 15 all-star teams, and even won the World Series with the Cardinals in 1982. His trophy shelf is loaded, and deservedly so. However, Smith does not have quite the edge on Simmons as some may think.
Though Smith has 16.1 more career dWAR than Simmons, Smith played nine more seasons (as of now) than Simmons. By averages, Simmons’ career 2.81 dWAR/162 is higher than Smith’s 2.32 dWAR/162. At the pace Simmons is going, he would need 6 more seasons of matching his career average in dWAR/162 to surpass Smith for the top spot. Simmons is also set to surpass Adrián Beltré for career DRS in the 2022 season, making Simmons one of the greatest fielders in the history of baseball. Though Simmons does not have quite the resume as Smith in terms of accolades (4 Gold Gloves and 0 all-star games), the defensive metrics are giving the edge to Simmons.
The Case Against Simmons
The biggest block for Simmons making the Hall of Fame is his ability at the plate. Over the course of his career, Simmons has a slash line of .265/.313/.369, averaging 10 home runs, 52 RBIs, and an 88 OPS+ per 162. Simmons has forever been a light-hitting shortstop, and his Hall of Fame case may look bleak based on those numbers. However, If Simmons were to be compared to Ozzie Smith on offense, Simmons’ case regains some traction. Over his 19-year career, Ozzie Smith posted a slash line of .262/.337/.328, averaging two home runs, 50 RBIs, and an 87 OPS+. Though hitting has changed over the years, Simmons still is outperforming Smith at the surface in terms of offensive output.
Looking at the above statistics, one might argue that Andrelton Simmons is a better player than Ozzie Smith was in his day. Simmons has very similar career offensive numbers, and he may also be the best defensive player this sport has ever seen. Though Simmons has only played 10 years, his career averages have him poised to become the next Ozzie Smith. Will Simmons receive the same Hall of Fame recognition that Smith did? Probably not. However, if he continues to perform at his career average, does Andrelton Simmons deserve to be elected to the Hall of Fame? Absolutely.
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