Not a clown question, bro: Could Simmons push Harper for ROY?

He wowed Braves players and coaches in his first few weeks as a non-roster invitee at spring training, and three months later Andrelton Simmons has had a similar effect on a much larger audience during his first month in the major leagues.

There’s something about these Braves rookie defensive prodigies from Curacao with first names that begin with “Andr.” Remember a 19-year-old Andruw Jones hitting two homers in his first plate appearances in the 1996 World Series?

Simmons (No. 19) has fit in well in the clubhouse and surpassed most expectations on the field.

Simmons (No. 19) has fit in well in the clubhouse and surpassed most expectations on the field.

Not saying Andrelton’s first month in the majors is on a par with Andruw’s postseason coming-out party, but for overall impact on a daily basis, the Braves’ current Curacao contributor has similarly exceeded all reasonable expectations offensively, while living up to all the billing with the glove.

On Saturday, ESPN’s Baseball Tonight named him its defensive player of the month for June. Not bad for a 22-year-old who’d never played a game above Double-A until June 2.

Oh, and Simmons hit .333 (30-for-90) in 25 June games with 10 extra-base hits (three homers), 14 RBIs, .365 OBP and .522 slugging percentage. After his first month in the bigs, he leads the team in slugging and OPS (.887), which is pretty stunning even if it’s a relatively small sample size and not something that we should expect to continue for an entire season.

“The way I look at it is, what he does defensively is unbelievable, and anything he brings offensively is a bonus,” catcher Brian McCann said. “And the guy happens to be hitting with guys in scoring position, getting the big hit, hitting .330 — he’s doing everything. He’s mature. He expects to be here and to produce at a high level. He’s a big-time athlete, and I don’t think there’s much that he can’t do.

“When you’re an athlete, you make adjustments and you learn on the fly. Guys like that usually have great careers.”

The guy who plays to his left, double-play partner Dan Uggla, has also been wholly impressed by Simmons’ first month.

“Awesome,” Uggla said. “The kid’s had, like, 10 multi-hit games already [including eight in the past 16 games]. He’s getting it done. Just getting it done. Putting together good at-bats, getting hits, he’s making plays.”

On the unexpected offensive production, Uggla said: “He’s been solid. I guess when he was in A-ball last year he won the batting title. It’s just that there’s so much hype on his defense because his defense is so good, that maybe his bat kind of gets overshadowed. But he can hit. We saw it in spring training, and obviously they [team officials] saw it in the minor leagues.

“I don’t know if they expected it to carry over the way it has been, but I know he expected it to. That’s what HE expects out of himself.”

In his past 16 games, Simmons is 23-for-58 (.397) with seven extra-base hits (two homers) and 10 RBIs.

He only had one full season of minor league ball (along with a rookie-league half season in 2010 and two months in Double-A this year). His current batting average is 22 points higher than the .311 he hit to win the Carolina League batting title last season at Lynchburg (when he was the only player in the league to hit .300), and his .887 OPS is nearly 100 points above his OPS at Double-A before his promotion.

The last prominent Brave to hit better in the majors than he ever hit in the minor leagues was McCann, who hit .333 with 24 homers and a .961 OPS in his first full season in the majors. (Jeff Francoeur also fits the description to a degree, with his .300 average and .884 OPS in 70 games as a rookie, but Frenchy did hit .327 with a .980 OPS in short-season rookie ball. Plus, his OPS slipped to .742 in his first full major league season.)

Anyway, this morning I asked McCann about sharing that unusual trait, if Simmons were to keep it up – guys who hit better in the majors than they did in the minors.

“Everything’s magnified here,” McCann said of the major leagues. “You show up here every day and it’s different than when you show up in Pearl, Mississippi. Every game matters. I think in the minor leagues, more or less you’re trying to get to the next level. It’s not necessarily about wins. And it’s just a different feel. You’re on the big stage.

“You wait your whole life to get here, and this is your chance to prove that all the hours you put in the cage and all the hours you put on the field, that you’re ready. You don’t know how many chances you’ll get, and when you get here you’ve got to be all in.”

Simmons is definitely that, McCann said.

“This guy is off the charts now,” he said. “Like I said this guy can play in the big leagues as long as wants just playing defense. And he rakes [offensively]. You put those two things together and you’ve got a recipe for a superstar.”

After the first two months of the season, it seemed that the engraver could go ahead and start putting Bryce Harper’s name on the NL Rookie of the Year award. But now? Not so fast.

It’s just been one month for Simmons. He has to make up ground on Harper, who’s hit .274 in 56 games with 24 extra-base hits (eight homers), 22 RBIs, eight steals and a .347 OBP and .475 slugging percentage (.822 OPS).

mlb_a_harper_gb1_400

Harper was the huge early favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, but Simmons could push him for the award if Simmons has a few more months anywhere near as good as his first one was in June.

But how ‘bout if Simmons keeps up something close to his current pace for another month? Then it would no longer be a clown question, bro. Suddenly there is competition for NL ROY.

The Braves have quite a run going in ROY balloting, and Simmons could give them a top-three finisher for the fifth consecutive season, or a top-two finisher for the third year in a row. Jair Jurrjens was third in 2008, Tommy Hanson was third in 2009, Jason Heyward was the runner-up in 2010, and last year Craig Kimbrel won the award by a wide margin over runner-up Freddie Freeman in a 1-2 Braves finish.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. For now, it’s just fun to watch the beginning of a career that looks like it’s going to be special, and to see what Simmons will do next.

“I’m beyond impressed with Andrelton Simmons,” McCann said. “The way he handles himself on and off the field, the way he shows up every day – he’s impressive.”

If you’ve seen interviews with Simmons, you all know he comes across as confident and mature beyond his years. He’s the same way when the cameras are off and the notepads and recorders are put a way.

As McCann put it, he’s confident “in a very good way. He’s humble, but he knows he’s got talent. You have to be that way.”

Braves GM Frank Wren said Simmons’ confidence and his ability to speak multiple languages are characteristics he’s seen in other young major league and minor league players from Curacao, including Andruw Jones, Jurrjens and Randal Simon.

“Almost every kid I’ve been around that’s from Curacao, they have a confidence,” Wren said. “A little more worldly because of the language abilities they have that are far and above the normal person, and I think it helps them in these situations…. It makes you pretty at ease in every situation. Because you’re so at ease socially no matter where you go, and you can mix with everybody.”

Of Simmons in particular, Wren said: “I think his confidence is probably more noticeable in the field. He’s not afraid to make a play, like the double play he started down in [Florida], falling to his right and throwing to his left and starting a double play. Most kids are going to eat that ball, and he just continued on because he has the confidence that he can finish the play.”

BRAVES LINEUP

  1. Bourn CF
  2. Prado LF
  3. Heyward RF
  4. Jones 3B
  5. Uggla 2B
  6. Freeman 1B
  7. Simmons SS
  8. Ross C
  9. Hudson P

• OK, the Ben Sheets signing today, didn’t get to a bunch of other stuff I was going to put in the blog, and I want to get it up before the game. So we’ll post it now. Let’s close with an old classic from the days when radio was eclectic and good, Badfinger’s “Day After Day.” This was one of those songs I heard so many times as a kid, it’s stuck in my brain pan forever, every note, every vocal inflection. You can hear it by clicking here, and see then do it “live” on a TV show by clicking here.

badfinger6

“DAY AFTER DAY” by Badfinger

I remember finding out about you,
Everyday my mind is all around you,
Looking out from my lonely room
Day after day,
Bring it home, Baby, make it soon,
I give my love to you.

I remember holding you while you sleep,
Everyday I feel the tears that you weep,
Looking out of my lonely gloom
Day after day
Bring it home, Baby, make it soon,
I give my love to you.

Looking out of my lonely room
Day after day,
Bring it home, Baby, make it soon,
I give my love to you.

I remember finding out about you,
Everyday my mind is all around you,
Looking out of my lonely gloom
Day after day,
Bring it home, Baby, make it soon,
I give my love to you.

– David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

1,748 comments Add your comment

Billy Beaneater

July 1st, 2012
1:50 pm

MIBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
1:50 pm

Thanks, DOB!

Venice Jim

July 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

Thanks, DOB!

just to let you know

July 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

bravesgrl4life

July 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

Thanks, DOB!

BFChris27

July 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

Thanks for new blog!!!!!!!!!

Tomahawk Mafia

July 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

Braves have their work cut out for them today. Spotting the Nationals 4 runs.

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

Let’s see how the bats respond in this inning. It will show alot.

Jake W.

July 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

Worst start of the weekend, time to replace Huddy with Medlen…..

ChattTownBrian

July 1st, 2012
1:52 pm

Bourn was fighting a laugh after that misplay. Heyward was covering his face like he was covering a laugh. Unreal. Nothing funny about it to me.

barack o'drama

July 1st, 2012
1:52 pm

no chance, even if he’s hitting .330 at the end of the year he cant beat the harper hype.

Venice Jim

July 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

LA Times listed top 10 rookies in each league (in the estimation of the writer) – apparently he had never heard of Andrelton…

The A Bomb

July 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

Good of Bourn to help his new team out in the first.

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

Totally a ball right there. WOW. It’s not where the catcher catches the pitch it’s where it crosses the plate and it didn’t go over the plate.

ncbravesfan

July 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

Game over, people. Thanks for showing up in today’s big game, Huddy.

Now on to an unimpressive split with the lowly Cubs

YoungerThan ThatNow

July 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

Good blog as always DOB! And Andruw’s two ‘96 WS homers is a sweet memory for all of us long time Braves fans! Andrelton is very special as well… hoping for a long Braves career and steady improvement for him!

GO BRAVES!

phoenix

July 1st, 2012
1:54 pm

Uggla in the All-Star game: what an embarrassment. I’d rather have Chase Utley on crutches, not to mention Omar Infante. Oh well, at least the fans got it right with McCann this year. And I’m not sure why anyone would vote for Chipper. He was an All-Star when he was able to play like one. Odds are he would be injured before the game while taking BP.

Thrashers Fan!

July 1st, 2012
1:54 pm

Who else wanna fu<k with Hollywood court.

Ralph

July 1st, 2012
1:54 pm

And this is our best pitcher, can’t wait til next year.

phoenix

July 1st, 2012
1:55 pm

Two days, two CF misplays, lots of laughter for Bourn. Reminds me of the old days with Melky.

bravesgrl4life

July 1st, 2012
1:55 pm

Gonna be a frustrating afternoon.

Jaded Braves Fan

July 1st, 2012
1:55 pm

The Nats have destroyed Huddy this year. I think this 11 earned runs in about 6+ innings. He’s just not what he used to be.

TuffShhhtuff

July 1st, 2012
1:55 pm

Wonder if DOB brought a good supply of softballs with him today for the post game press conference. Looks like he will need a few today.

jeffrey d

July 1st, 2012
1:55 pm

Here’s one minor complaint I’ve had once All Star rosters are announced (besides the “I can’t believe the fans voted for that guy!”)

I just want to see a list of the rosters. Not a 10 paragraph story. Just a list. That looks something like DOB’s lineup.

Bourn – CF
Prado – LF…..etc

I clicked on ESPN’s “NL Roster” link and it was just a story about Votto.

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
1:56 pm

Heyward slashes a single to right.

MIBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
1:57 pm

Nice hit, JHey!

ncbravesfan

July 1st, 2012
1:57 pm

“Gonna be a frustrating afternoon.”

Not really. At least they got blown away early and now, we can get on with the rest of our day. Better than wasting three hours and having them blow it late.

Weaseal

July 1st, 2012
1:58 pm

Nice old song -Thanks!!

TheOnlyBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
1:58 pm

Sorry about your mann, McFann

Tomahawk Mafia

July 1st, 2012
1:59 pm

Going to be a long day at the ballyard today. When the Braves allow four runs or more in a game they are 14-27.

usnavyvolfaninva

July 1st, 2012
1:59 pm

Braves dig themselves into a huge hole yet again.

Disgusted

July 1st, 2012
2:00 pm

There is a whole half of baseball left so yes, Simmons could push Harper for ROY.

The Sheets sign in interesting —- long shot but if he is anything like he was, watch out N.L. East.

jeffrey d

July 1st, 2012
2:00 pm

Better than wasting three hours and having them blow it late.

So you’re not watching anymore?

ncbravesfan90

July 1st, 2012
2:00 pm

I just wish we had one ace….Washington has 3…

Disgusted

July 1st, 2012
2:01 pm

Hudson is not a top of the line starter anymore. Not done, not bad at all but more of a number three guy right now.

Tennessee Braves Fan

July 1st, 2012
2:01 pm

Ok guys, Getting married Saturday and first stop on the honeymoon will b Sunday in Philly 2 watch the Bravos away from Turner Field. Does anyone have any info on things I should check out while at Citizens Bank Park?

Sons of Rick Matula

July 1st, 2012
2:01 pm

Wren … why not Jamie Moyer? If Sheets, why not Smoltz?

ChattTownBrian

July 1st, 2012
2:01 pm

Somebody wake up Lew and tell him Hudson isn’t an ace. Very good pitcher, love him as much as any Brave, but if somebody thinks he is a true #1 on a playoff hopeful team fighting against team like the Nats and Giants … you’re in a fantasy world.

TheOnlyBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:01 pm

got a dilemma for Final vote candidates…. Bourn (he deserves it), or Chipper (last year).

Mark

July 1st, 2012
2:02 pm

We are beat before I can get in from church, get a bite and get comfortable. Bummer!

iTiSi

July 1st, 2012
2:02 pm

Ben Sheets=Livan Hernandez II

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:03 pm

I’m voting for Chipper. It will be the last time any of us can do this. Don’t blow it.

MIBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:03 pm

Much better inning, Huddy!

njbraves

July 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

It’s not a dilemma…Chipper is the choice.

ChattTownBrian

July 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

Ask Chipper if he thinks Hudson is a top of the league pitcher you want in a definite must win game. Do it in private though, not in front of a camera. IDK though, Chipper is pretty honest.

Hugo Z Hackenbush

July 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

I’m just hoping that Sheets isn’t the least bit overweight, or else we’ll have a new, never-ending wave of fat jokes…

jeffrey d

July 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

That Blue Bell girl has to feel ridiculous

Braveone

July 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

From the previous blog which had 3,167 comments, nolie led the way with 186 posts. There were 193 different poster names. Here are the Top 25:

Rank Poster Frequency

1 nolie 186
2 NickB 175
3 The A Bomb 115
4 Tomahawk Mafia 112
5 ChattTownBrian 101
6 TheOnlyBravesFan 95
7 DS1 75
8 Venice Jim 73
9 phil 69
10 Bat Masterson 63
11 Brava 60
12 ncbravesfan90 59
13 IlliniBrave 58
14 VaBravesFan 57
15 Lew 56
16 Disgusted 55
17 Efrim 55
18 Mark 52
19 brian 51
20 McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô: 49
21 Ward 42
22 Powder Blue 38
23 richbrave 38
24 Capt.Mudd 37
25 monty 36

Tomahawk Mafia

July 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

Nothing wrong with the Ben Sheets move. The Braves have nothing to lose by signing him. If he turns about to be similar to the Scott Proctor signing, who they signed after his Tommy John surgery, then it will be a loss.

The A Bomb

July 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

Disgusted — Do you honestly believe as long as Gonzalez is at the helm, “WATCH OUT NL EAST” will be a slogan associated with the Braves in any way, shape or form?

Come on now.

nolie

July 1st, 2012
2:05 pm

one career type year might be the only chance some guys will ever have at the all star game, why begrudge them that thrill if they have played well? not sure how the subject warrants getting all upset over anyway

McFann :Ô: :Ô: :ô:

July 1st, 2012
2:05 pm

TOBF

Thanks. It’s a bummer, for sure—not so much because he didn’t make it, but because of how his year has gone so far…

Tomahawkin

July 1st, 2012
2:05 pm

Wanna Raise Some Hell?

Tomahawk Mafia

July 1st, 2012
2:05 pm

Terrible at bat again by Uggla.

CSP

July 1st, 2012
2:06 pm

Dave, love Badfinger, but hate the remastered versions. What do you think?

jeffrey d

July 1st, 2012
2:06 pm

I’ll bet Harper gets the last spot

TuffShhhtuff

July 1st, 2012
2:07 pm

My weather page on DTV says it’s now 104 in ATL already. Was only predicted to hit 103. Did Chip actually just say “Freeman is swinging a hot bat?”

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:07 pm

I wouldn’t mind Melky being on the bench, but there is just no way he start’s over super stars IMO.

nolie

July 1st, 2012
2:07 pm

go vote hundreds of times with made up addresses and get Chipper in

ChattTownBrian

July 1st, 2012
2:07 pm

It isn’t Hudson’s fault at all. He is coming off another surgery and ain’t getting any younger. You want a sinkerball pitcher to have pin point sink and location to be your consistant stopper. Not a chance anymore I don’t believe.

Mitchell

July 1st, 2012
2:08 pm

Hey, this way we don’t have to wonder what the Nationals are doing.

LAG

July 1st, 2012
2:08 pm

Back from vacation and finally back to the blogs.

Congrats to Uggla and Kimbrel for being selected to the ASG. Still room for Bourn and maybe Prado, either via injury replacement (Kemp) or the Final Vote. Let’s get them there.

Jaded Braves Fan

July 1st, 2012
2:08 pm

“Ben Sheets=Livan Hernandez II”

The difference is Ben has heat and can miss bats. Plus, he’s three years younger than Livan.

Odds are Sheets blows his arm out again, but until that happens I think he can help.

Tomahawkin

July 1st, 2012
2:08 pm

I love the Sheets deal, He will Comeback and be the savior of the back end of the rotation, Bank on It

He will come out and Dominate like Jorge Sosa did in 2005 or like Jaret Wright did in 2004

Love the signing

As for the game, I’m tempted to turn it off

Mark

July 1st, 2012
2:09 pm

Uggs. That a way to rip it and shut up all these people questioning your all-star selection!

nolie

July 1st, 2012
2:09 pm

those “superstars” will get plenty of opportunities, joe schmoo might just get one. Granted its different now with the all star game determining the home field, so I can understand if that is the main beef

The A Bomb

July 1st, 2012
2:09 pm

One thing’s for sure — we will NEVER see Gonzalez managing the NL All-Star team. NEVER.

Bat Masterson

July 1st, 2012
2:10 pm

Don’t care about the All Star game. Still Chipper should go, tony L should just go away

TheOnlyBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:10 pm

Ok, Chipper it is.

Sheets is better than Livan. He has the ability to miss bats.

Sopheee

July 1st, 2012
2:11 pm

I think Harper will get it too.

bravesgrl4life

July 1st, 2012
2:11 pm

At least Simmons is making Gio work

Capt.Mudd

July 1st, 2012
2:11 pm

Is Ross going to count this game as his ‘easy money’ game? He was not bourn to play like dat.

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:11 pm

Fans just vote for players out of spite. Like Panda beating David Wright…. LOL Do fans really wanna see Panda play more than Wright? NO

Tomahawkin

July 1st, 2012
2:11 pm

I warned you guys about the Power of The Curley W! And their Natitude!

They really remind me of the 1994 expos, Just a Serious pain in the groin for the Braves and us fans

TheOnlyBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

Wow, Simmons putting up a fight

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

Simmons is having a helluva AB

Disgusted

July 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

“Somebody wake up Lew and tell him Hudson isn’t an ace. Very good pitcher, love him as much as any Brave, but if somebody thinks he is a true #1 on a playoff hopeful team fighting against team like the Nats and Giants … you’re in a fantasy world.”

CTB — I never really thought that we ever was an ACE. Very solid number 2 guy in his best yrs with both Oakland and us, but an ace, no. And that is not a knock on him. I like what Hudson has done here and in Oakland, but he is not a Pedro, CC or Randy Johnson.

Did he ever take some good Oakland teams past the first round? Maybe once. And in one of those yrs, think it was 2000 or 01, that Oakland team was better than the Yankees & they came so close but could not overcome them. Those A’s teams should have gotten to the series at least once in that time.

The Braves do not have an ace. They have two very good pitchers at the top of the rotation in Hudson and Hanson.

Hudson had a bad first innig for sure, costly.

The A Bomb

July 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

Great at-bat by the kid. Regardless.

Ric Flair to Right

July 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

Call me crazy I’d go with this

bourn
simmons
prado
heyward
freeman
jones
uggla
mac

TBbravesfan

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

keep working him sim

TheOnlyBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

Wow! That’s how you do it.

TuffShhhtuff

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

Pitchers don’t “miss” bats, batters “miss” pitches, SOMETIMES!

Sopheee

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

If you’re voting, vote for 10. One last time.

nolie

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

oh baloney, millions of fans do not vote for a guy out of spite, utter silliness

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

Simmons is a future star.

Mark

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

Managers that retire and are out of the game should not be allowed to come back and manage the all-star game. Let them assist or throw out the first pitch or something.

TheOnlyBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

That was a Pastornicky like At bat

Tomahawkin

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

Gawd I wish Lil Andy started the season with us!

Bravefaninok

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

Simmons is running up Geo’s pitch count,love this kid!

Tomahawk Mafia

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

Great at bat by Simmons. Even if the Braves fail to score here, that at bat took a toll on Gonzalez.

MIBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

Nice job making him work, Simba!

LAG

July 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

@ Tomahawk Mafia re: signing Sheets –
The problem with Proctor was that he actually ended up in Atlanta. Nothing he did in Mississippi or Gwinnett warranted him coming up (ERA never below 5 at any level). If Sheets is horrible in the minors, I’m pretty sure the Braves would part ways with him.

Good AB, Simmons. Especially on a hot day like this.

Capt.Mudd

July 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

Rookie shows ‘em how to work the pitcher—especially given the climate of today’s affair.

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

nolie

I’m being stubborn and sarcastic.

TheOnlyBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

D. Ross hitting better than BMac…..

Mark

July 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

Right now Ross needs to be playing more too!

Bravefaninok

July 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

VaBravesFan

July 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

Simmons is a future star.

The way he is playing you can drop the future,the kid is a star.

1957 Braves Fan

July 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

If the goal was to avoid a sweep then the Braves managed to do that. Braves always waste their opportunities.

Mitchell

July 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

Come on Huddy.

Bat Masterson

July 1st, 2012
2:15 pm

Simmons is trying to get Gio out of the game singlehandedly

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