When it comes to grittiness, the typical thing for most fans to do is get a little snarky and talk about the particular baseball players who go out there, try their best, give it their all, but aren't actually very good. "Yeah, he's not particularly a good hitter and the guy can barely field his position, but yo! He's out there trying! He's giving 110% effort! I want that guy in my foxhole!" Again, that's a label that we give to guys with limited talent. With that being said, one guy who epitomizes grit and filthiness for the Braves is our very own defensive maestro himself: Andrelton Simmons.
Now, as I just mentioned, Andrelton Simmons has as much defensive talent as Galactus has power over any planet that he so chooses. That's how talented this man is with a glove in his hand and a small, white sphere hurtling towards him at a high rate of speed. If there's a routine grounder headed his way, you can call it an "out" before it even gets halfway to him. If it's a tricky play, then he'll make it look routine. If the ball happens to somehow end up in left field, he'll do stuff like this:
That makes no sense. This momentous occasion in time is nearly a year old and I still can't believe that it actually happened. That should've been a run scored for the Mets. That should not have been an out. Instead, Andrelton Simmons basically willed it into being an out. It's still one of the filthiest robberies you'll ever see, but for Simba, it's just another feather in his cap. It's a dirty cap that's decorated with the former hopes and dreams of hitters past who thought that they could sneak a ball past this man, and Simba is continuously adding even more decorations to that hat.
Seriously, watching this man play defense makes you believe that he's out there with a one-track mind: "I must get an out, and I'm going to go to great lengths and stoop to low depths to get you out." A prime example of this line of thinking actually occurred last week in Philadelphia. Although the vast majority of that series was just one big punch to the gut, this particular moment made the entire series worth watching. After an attempt to catch Dominic Brown sneaking off to third from second base failed on its initial attempt, Simmons didn't give up. Even as the umpire called Brown "safe" on his return to the bag, that didn't deter Simba from getting sneaky and getting the out by any means necessary. Brown lifted off the bag for one second, and that's when our hero pounced.
Here's a freeze-frame of the beautiful moment:
Also, as if to reinforce the point that all this man seems to know about is heart and hustle, he was actually recently given the Braves "Heart and Hustle" award.
Do you know what this means? Each team gives out an award for basically being the grittiest guy on the team, and the guy with otherworldly talent at shortstop was the guy who won it! But again, after watching him play night in and night out, you can understand why Simba was the one who actually won an award for grittiness.
Although his bat is nowhere near the level of his glove, he's just as determined to improve there as he is to get someone out. I'm pretty sure that everybody's heard the story now of the Braves having to put a cap on the number of swings that Andrelton Simmons takes after Batting Practice (they've limited him to 50), and then there was this gem of an anecdote. Simba is currently out with a bone bruise on his thumb, and yet he's still been trying to actively participate in team activities such as getting his swings in. It's gotten to the point where the team trainers are
seriously jokingly threatening him with violence so that he can rest.
Fredi Gonzalez joked the trainers told him, "If you see Andrelton with a bat in his hands today, hit him over the head with it." #Braves— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) August 4, 2015
That's an almost cartoonish level of determination on Simba's part, but it just shows that he's willing to do anything he can to get better. This has been a pretty long season for the Braves and their fans, but one of the highlights of the season has definitely been watching Simba get down and dirty and doing whatever it takes to lift this team to victory. Here's hoping that he'll keep on being filthy and that we'll keep on getting opportunities to watch him do so.
As the official washer and dryer of MLB, Maytag brand is searching for the "Filthiest Plays of the Week." Starting August 3rd ball players of any level can upload a picture or video of their "filthy play" using #MyFilthiestPlay for a chance to win a trip to the World Series plus a Maytag brand Top Load Washer and Dryer pair1. Baseball fans have the power to vote for their favorite filthy play each week atMLB.com/Maytag. Follow Maytag on Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date with the newest and filthiest plays.