Last year we projected Andrelton Simmons to have some sneaky fantasy value by combining for 29 HR plus SB with 72 R and 48 RBI tossed in. Simmons finished the year with 26 HR plus SB, 76 R, and 59 RBI. That’s not too far off. Go us!
While we did a good job pinpointing his overall value, we did a terrible job projecting where that value would come from. We figured the speedy shortstop who’d never hit more than 6 HR in any season would get it done with his legs rather than his bat. We were way off.
- Projected HR: 9 | Actual HR: 17
- Projected SB: 20 | Actual SB: 6
Simmons’ power/speed flip flop goes down as one of 2013’s biggest surprises, but one that fantasy owners will undoubtedly take coming from a power-starved shortstop position. Unfortunately, that surprise makes Simmons extremely hard to project for the upcoming season. Do we just toss his minor league resume out the window and work with last year’s potential anomaly, or do we play it safe and expect him to revert? It’s probably somewhere in the middle, but which way should we lean?
First, let’s take a look at his HR potential by inspecting the landing spots of his 2013 long balls overlayed on Turner Field:
Overall, Simmons hit just three of his 17 HR more than 400 feet, but according to HitTrackerOnline.com’s impressive HR database, nine of his HR had “plenty” of distance, eight had “just enough”, and only one of those “just enough”s was considered lucky.
Turner Field has a difficult left-center power alley, making the park overall 15% harder for right-handers to hit HR, but Simmons only hit five of his 17 blasts at home. He’s also found a nice power stroke hitting the ball right down the line, definitely the easiest place for a righty to put it out in Atlanta.
It’s also worth noting that Simmons increased his FB% to 39.1 last year, giving him an almost even split between grounders and flies. That was a substantial improvement from his 27.2% in 182 PA in 2012, but it was only a percentage point or two higher than his minor league rates (batted ball distributions vary by source, though).
More fly balls equal more HR, and Simmons’ 7.9% HR/FB rate isn’t ridiculously high. (Note: Simmons hit a ton of infield flies, and those are included in Fangraphs’ HR/FB calculation. Looking at his HR hit per non-infield fly, Simmons’ HR/FB rate was 9.6%, which is a little high, but not unsustainable.)
While it’s not a good sign that Simmons only hit HR to his pull field — a lack of HR power to center and opposite fields usually indicates poor overall strength — I don’t see a huge reason to expect Simmons to drop back to single digits. What will be worth watching, though, is whether he can break out of the single-digit steals. I think he has too much SB history to expect a similarly poor performance.
At A Glance
- Strengths: SB, K
- Neutral: BA, 2B, 3B
- Weaknesses: R, HR, RBI, OBP, SLG, OPS, BB
Players With Similar Fantasy Value
2014 Fantasy Baseball Projection
2014 Projection: 671 PA, 68 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 17 SB, .270 BA
Overall Rank: 173 | SS Rank: 15
…a player’s draft value is a function of how good the general public expects them to be, and pinpointing Simmons’ value is extremely difficult.
Because Simmons’ 2013 season was so much different than what he’d shown in the minors, there’s a lot of guesswork involved in his projection. I do believe he has some pop, more than we figured before last season, but we’re still going to dock him a couple HR despite projecting a few more PA. We also think he has a good chance at gaining back some of those steals, but honestly, this is based on little more than a hunch.
The most worrisome trend I see with Simmons, which I mentioned briefly above, is his IFFB% — 17.8 last year. In all of his stops, both majors and minors, Simmons has always popped the ball up at more than the league average rate, and that’s really going to hurt his ability to hit for a good batting average. He showed zero improvement in the second half last year, posting similarly horrible rates all season, and the only reasons we have him improving from a .248 BA to .270 are his speed and his extremely low strikeout rates.
I doubt that many people will expect a HR repeat from Simmons, and that may cause his draft stock to fall, but a player’s draft value is a function of how good the general public expects them to be, and pinpointing Simmons’ value is extremely difficult. I could see him going around 120-130 overall if someone expects the power to stick and the steals to return, but I could also see him going outside the top 250 in a league full of skeptics.
2015 & Beyond
Simmons is a gloveman first and foremost, and Atlanta values him for that. He’ll be in the lineup every single day, and the Braves’ lineup is a good one.
Just 24-years-old, Simmons will probably grow into his 6’2 frame, and that should mean his 15-20 HR power eventually cements itself as perennially repeatable. I’d hope with experience his IFFB% drops, but right now that’s not something you can really expect. At some point I’d think Simmons posts a .300+ season — his strikeout rates are low enough to have the BABIP Fairy carry him north of that mark at least once — but he’s a seriously flawed hitter with a lot of raw talent.
As a result I don’t expect Simmons to have any sustained upside in the coming years, but he’s shown he can hit for a little power and we know he’s flashed the speed before, so in any given year he could jump inside the top 75 overall players. If that ever happens and you’re the lucky beneficiary, you’d better sell, sell, sell.