Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons was named National League rookie of the month for June, his first month in the major leagues. It’s been that kind of start for the dynamic 22-year-old from Curacao.
Simmons, a second-round pick by the Braves in 2010, was brought up May 30 to stabilize their infield defense and whatever he brought offensively would be a bonus. In addition to playing stellar defense at shortstop, Simmons went out and hit .333 (30-for-90) with six doubles, three home runs and 14 RBIs in 25 games in June.
“It’s pretty special,” Simmons said. “First month, I played well, worked hard. To be named rookie of the month – that’s a big accomplishment for me.”
His batting average for the month led all NL rookies, as did his on-base percentage (.365), and his .522 slugging percentage was second highest among NL rookies.
He played his first game on June 2 against Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg on a day Strasburg was at his nastiest (nine strikeouts in seven innings). Simmons went 0-for-3 with three groundouts but had one of the hardest hit balls of the day, when he hit into a double play off Strasburg. Simmons collected his first major league hit the next day with a double off of Gio Gonzalez.
“I learned from the first day, I’ve got to be aggressive,” Simmons said. “Don’t be afraid of the pitchers. If you get your pitch to hit early in the count, go ahead, especially in the No. 8 hole. I’ve been seeing the ball really well. I’m working with the coaches a lot in the cages, stuff I feel I need to work on to get better, and it’s been paying off.”
Simmons has also earned a great deal of respect from his Braves teammates, like catcher Brian McCann.
“The way I look at it is what he does defensively is unbelievable and anything he brings offensively is a bonus,” McCann said. “And the guy happens to be hitting with guys in scoring position, seems to be getting the big hit, hitting .330. He’s doing everything. He’s mature. He expects to be here, he expects to produce at a high level, and he’s a big-time athlete. I don’t think there’s much he can’t do.”
This is the fifth consecutive season the Braves have had a player win rookie of the month honors, including Jair Jurrjens (June, 2008), Tommy Hanson (June, 2009), Jason Heyward (April and May, 2010), Craig Kimbrel (June and August, 2011) and Freddie Freeman (July, 2011).