The future is now for the Atlanta Braves, as they replace rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky with shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who will be making his Major League debut in Washington on Friday. The most basic of comments to describe the move came from the Braves GM:
"We needed more," Braves general manager Frank Wren said of Pastornicky’s defense.
Simmons is a defensive wiz, and may bring with him the best shortstop arm in the National League. The Braves drafted him as a pitcher, wanting his high-90's fastball on the mound, but Simmons convinced them to let him play shortstop, and the young right-hander from Curacao has done nothing to make the Braves change their mind.
While Pastornicky was hitting okay, Simmons should represent an offensive upgrade as well as a huge defensive upgrade. Here are their stats, Pastornicky in the Majors this year, Simmons in double-A:
|2012 - Tyler Pastornicky (MLB)
|2012 - Andrelton Simmons (AA)||43||171||28||50||9||2||3||21||20||20||10||2||.292||.372||.421|
It will probably be tough for Simmons to continue these offensive numbers in the Majors, but there is hope that he can post a better line that Pastornicky. Before Simmons got hurt this spring, he was putting up better numbers than Pastornicky, and some of the best numbers on the team.
Simmons is a free swinger, but he doesn't strike out that much, he puts the ball in play. He has better speed than Pastornicky on the base paths, and better range in the field. He's also been on fire at the plate lately, winning the Southern League Hitter of the Week last week.
The biggest improvement with this move is the upgrade in defense at shortstop. Pastornicky has the worst fielding percentage of any starting shortstop in the league, and the worst range, based on UZR and UZR/150 among Major League shortstops. Both of those factors should be greatly improved with Simmons.
This is a great move by the Braves. Pastornicky played decently with Atlanta, but I've thought of him all along as more of a utility player or second baseman, and he should have a future with the Braves in one of those roles. I wonder if the Braves will play him at multiple positions in Gwinnett to prepare him for more of a utility role in the future.
Welcome to the big leagues, Andrelton Simmons.