Andrelton Simmons was the Braves’ most valuable player last year, but because defense is less well measured and its value is less well understood than offense, Freddie Freeman came in 5th in the league MVP balloting and got a $135 million contract, while Andrelton finished 14th and has yet to sign a contract. There’s no doubt that the Braves know he’s good. But neither the market nor the voters reward defensive dominance the way it rewards offensive dominance, and they aren’t likely to start doing so any time soon.
(Defense and offense are on different scales. It is possible to create more wins with the bat than with the glove — Simmons was worth 5 dWAR last year while Mike Trout was worth 10 oWAR — but still: the Braves allowed the fewest runs in the league despite surrounding Simmons with Chris Johnson and Dan Uggla on the infield and giving Evan Gattis 47 starts in the outfield.
Of course, he did all that despite doing next to nothing at the plate, and if he learns to hit then he could be the best player in the league. (On the other hand, “If he learns to hit” is something people have been saying about Elvis Andrus since he was a 17 year old in the Braves system, and Andrus still managed to sign a $120 million contract a year ago.)
At the plate, Simmons has one very good skill: his contact rate was 21st in baseball last year. And he has another decent skill: his isolated power was sixth among major league shortstops. He isn’t Tulowitzki, but he isn’t significantly less powerful than, say, Asdrubal Cabrera. As I’ve often written, when a guy has decent power and doesn’t strike out, that’s a good sign for his future power production. It means he can generate power without selling out for power.
However, he also has two major weaknesses. One is popping up: his infield fly ball percentage was the highest in baseball last year. Another is plate discipline: his walk rate was 30th-lowest in baseball last year. These two may be related.
G-Braves Hold National Anthem Auditions on March 8
The Gwinnett Braves will hold open auditions for National Anthem singers on Saturday, March 8 from 10 AM to 2 PM at Coolray Field. Vocalists and vocal groups that are interested in attending the audition must fill out and return a registration form.
Those who have sung the National Anthem at a Gwinnett Braves game in the past are still required to register for an audition. For singers who are unable to make the March 8 audition date, please call 678-277-0312.
In addition to the National Anthem auditions, the Gwinnett Braves will also be holding a 50% off sale at the Coolray Field Team Store on March 8. All Gwinnett Braves merchandise (excluding clearance items and outerwear) will be 50% off from 10 AM to 2 PM.
Starter Bronson Arroyo inked a two-year, $23.5 million deal with the Diamondbacks on Friday. The signing displaced two pitchers in the D-Backs’ system: 2011 first-rounder Archie Bradley andRandall Delgado, one of the players acquired from the Braves in January 2013′s Justin Upton trade. The rotation can more or less be written in ink withPatrick Corbin, Arroyo, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, and Brandon McCarthy.
GM Kevin Towers said Bradley could still wind up in the rotation in the event of an injury, according to MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Towers also indicated that Delgado could end up contributing out of the bullpen.
Delgado, who Arizona acquired from Atlanta as part of the Justin Upton trade, is out of Minor League options. That means if the D-backs want to send him to the Minor Leagues, they will have to put him on waivers first, where he could be claimed by another team.
“So if he’s not one of our starters, he’s more than likely going to probably be one of our bullpenners,” Towers said.
Vegas favors Giants over A’s in 2014
The A’s were 96-66 in the 2013 regular season, tied for the third best record in all of baseball and good for a second consecutive AL West title. The Giants finished the year 76-86, tied for third place in the NL West and well outside the playoff picture. Yet the oddmakers are giving San Francisco a better shot to win the 2014 World Series than Oakland.
Las Vegas betting website Bovada.lv lists the Dodgers as the favorites to win the 2014 World Series with 13/2 odds. The Giants are tied with the Los Angeles Angels for eighth best odds at 16/1. And the A’s are tied with the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays for 11th best odds at 20/1.
Below is the website’s complete odds to win the 2014 World Series:
Odds to win the 2014 World Series
Los Angeles Dodgers — 13/2
Detroit Tigers — 17/2
New York Yankees — 10/1
Boston Red Sox — 12/1
St. Louis Cardinals — 12/1
Washington Nationals — 12/1
Texas Rangers — 14/1
Los Angeles Angels — 16/1
San Francisco Giants — 16/1
Cincinnati Reds — 18/1
Atlanta Braves — 20/1
Oakland Athletics — 20/1
Toronto Blue Jays — 20/1
Tampa Bay Rays — 22/1
Pittsburgh Pirates — 25/1
Baltimore Orioles — 33/1
Cleveland Indians — 33/1
Kansas City Royals — 33/1
Philadelphia Phillies — 33/1
Seattle Mariners — 33/1
Arizona Diamondbacks — 40/1
Chicago Cubs — 40/1
Chicago White Sox — 40/1
Milwaukee Brewers — 50/1
San Diego Padres — 50/1
Colorado Rockies — 66/1
New York Mets — 66/1
Minnesota Twins — 75/1
Miami Marlins — 100/1
Houston Astros — 200/1