clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Former Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons has announced his retirement

The multi-time Gold Glove Award winner hangs up his cleats after being one of the preeminent defenders of his era.

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
Andrelton Simmons began his career in Atlanta, debuting in 2012.
Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

On December 26, 2023, ISE Baseball - the agency of Andrelton Simmons - posted a congratulatory image on their Instagram account announcing Simmons was retiring from professional baseball despite being only 34 years old.

It is unclear in the post means Simmons is stepping away from baseball entirely or just from MLB as Simmons had committed to play in the newly formed Middle East and South Asia professional Baseball United league earlier this year.

If this is the end of Simmons playing career, he will leave the sport as one of the best defensive players of his era. Spending the majority of his career as a shortstop, he won four Gold Gloves and one Platinum Glove for his defensive work. He also won Wilson Defensive Player Awards in six different seasons.

Those honors and awards don’t fully represent how impactful Simmons was with his glove and powerful right arm. As subjective as defensive ratings are, Baseball-Reference gives Simmons 28.5 dWAR for his career with 201 Defensive Runs Saved above average in 10,388.1 innings as a shortstop. Fangraphs credits him with 114 total Ultimate Zone Rating in runs above average in his career.

Simmons was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Atlanta Braves out of Western Oklahoma State College. A native of Curacao, Simmons debuted for the Braves in 2012 becoming the team’s starting shortstop in June before a hand injury caused him to miss almost two months in early July. He would return that September and begin a run of defensive dominance lasting almost a decade.

Simmons would play in 499 games for Atlanta through the end of the 2015 season after which he traded to the Los Angeles Angels despite signing a contract extension with Atlanta prior to the 2014 season.

With the Braves, he won two Gold Gloves and finished 14th in the NL MVP award voting in 2013. His 2015 may have been his best defensive season as a Brave, although he did not win the Gold Glove that season, he was named Wilson’s Overall Defensive Player of the year when he led the NL with 4.1 bWAR.

In slightly more than three full seasons worth of games with Atlanta, he produced a stunning 13.7 bWAR.

A slightly below average hitter during his career, he did hit a career-high 17 home runs in 2013 and slashed .256/.304/.362 during his time in Atlanta.

As a batter, he did not work deep counts but did have strong bat-to-ball skills. He rarely stuck-out but also walked infrequently, topping 67 strikeouts in a season only once but also never walking more than 47 times. The off set of his contact-based approach was that he did not hit with much power, collecting only 294 extra base hits in 4,816 career plate appearances.

Simmons would play five seasons with the Angles before spending the 2021 season with the Minnesota Twins and concluding his MLB career with a 34-games stint with the Chicago Cubs in 2022 as issues with his throwing shoulder hampered his effectiveness and ultimately led to his release.

While with the Angels, he continued his excellent defensive output, winning two Gold Gloves and leading the AL with a career-best 5.1 dWAR in 2017 when his Infield Range above average was an incredible 31 (he had 75 for his career). He also put-up his best two offensive seasons of his career in 2017 and 2018 with a 102 OPS+ and 108 OPS+, respectively. He finished 8th in the AL MVP vote in 2017 and 15th the following year.

His slash line with the Angles improved to .281/.328/.394 and he also became a stolen base threat, stealing 51 base while being caught only 11 times. That was in stark contrast with his time in Atlanta when was successful in only 16 out of 29 stole base attempts.

Injuries cost him significant time in both 2016 and 2019 and he opted out before the end of the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign to deal with mental health issues.

In parts of 11 seasons, he played in only 1,225 games seeing action in 140-or-more games only five times in his career.

Despite his abbreviated career, Baseball-Reference ranks Simmons’ 28.5 career dWAR as tied for 11th all-time despite playing four fewer seasons that the any of the players ranked above him. He led his respective league in dWAR three times (2013, 2015, 2017) and finished in the top four eight times. As another point of reference on his defensive aptitude, he posted only 1.0 fewer dWAR in his career than Omar Vizquel despite playing in 13 fewer seasons.

Simmons was also part of one of the most controversial plays in modern Braves history as it was his flyball to left field that was ruled an infield fly in the 2012 NL Wild Card game that famously led to a stoppage in play after Braves fans littered Turner Field with debris after what appeared to be a single was called an out.

Five years ago, Simmons was heading into his age 29 season on an apparent track to become one of the best defenders in the history of the game. Injuries hampered and ultimately brought an early end to his career - and while he still takes a claim as one of the best defenders of his era - it is fair to wonder if a longer and healthier career could have seen him ascended to the inner sanctum of defensive wizardly alongside all-time great defensive shortstops Ozzie Smith and Mark Belander and third baseman Brooks Robinson.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Battery Power Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Atlanta Braves news from Battery Power