Quick! Who's the best-fielding shortstop in Baseball? If you've been watching television or the Internet lately, you might well think it's Arizona's Didi Gregorius, who's made three highlight-worthy plays in just the last week. Here's my favorite:
... but trust me: There are more.
Or you might choose Jose Iglesias, who seems to average roughly one impossible play per week. Here's a recent example, with Iglesias showing off what seems like his unique ability to make a strong and accurate throw from just about any position you might imagine:
... and again, please trust me: There are more. If I could watch one fielder every day for a whole season, I probably would choose Jose Iglesias. He's just that thrilling.
I found those clips, and many more like them, with a simple search on MLB.com's video page. And I went searching because I'd already seen those clips in various places. What I hadn't seen much of lately was Andrelton Simmons. Which was, I suspect, probably just the luck of the draw. Because there's no shortage of those clips, either. Here's one of the more spectacular from last month:
It seemed like Simmons hasn't been getting the video love, but I think that's just been the luck of the draw in recent days. I went through and counted nine clips in August for Simmons, compared to eight for Iglesias and only five for Gregorius.
Which is about right. I began this exercise because I was concerned that Andrelton Simmons hasn't been getting his due as Baseball's greatest shortstop. Now I'm thinking he probably has been getting his due, and I just missed it. Which makes me feel foolish, but also hopeful that Simmons will win the Gold Glove he seems to deserve. Because in addition to all those video clips, Simmons is just crushing it ... statistically speaking, I mean.
According to FanGraphs, Simmons has racked up 24 Fielding Runs this season ... which leads the majors. Simmons has racked up 26 Total Zone Runs, which leads the majors. He's got 37 Fielding Bible Runs Saved, which leads the majors.
These are all different methods for evaluating fielders, and all contain limitations and biases, including identical limitations and biases and different limitations and biases. But they are different methods, and yet somehow they reach identical conclusions: Andrelton Simmons is a brilliant shortstop, quite probably the most brilliant in the majors. What's more, these methods concluded the same thing last year, during Simmons' relatively short stint as the Braves' every-day shortstop.
It's a beautiful thing when the highlights and the statistics tell us the same thing, because then we don't have to yell at each other. So thank you, Andrelton Simmons, for bringing us together in peace and harmony. But what else should we expect from an Atlanta product.
For much more about Simmons and his Braves, please visit SB Nation's Talking Chop.