The Andrelton Simmons Trade

November 17, 2015

Last Thursday, the Braves traded Andrelton Simmons to the Angels for two pitching prospects and Erick Aybar. The move isn’t a stunner since the Braves lost 95 games in 2015, third-most in baseball. It makes sense for them to continue to rebuild. Still, it’s not every day you see an elite defender change teams during the offseason. In 2015, Simmons produced the third-highest Runs Saved total of any player in the DRS era (2003-present) who subsequently changed teams in the offseason.

Most Runs Saved in a Season Prior to Changing Teams in Offseason
Player Season Team DRS New Team
Chone Figgins 2009 Angels 29 Mariners
Jason Heyward 2014 Braves 26 Cardinals
Andrelton Simmons 2015 Braves 25 Angels
Brendan Ryan 2010 Cardinals 24 Mariners
Rafael Furcal 2005 Braves 24 Dodgers
Pedro Feliz 2007 Giants 24 Phillies


Figgins, Furcal, and Feliz were free agents, so their moves were by choice. Meanwhile, the Braves are in a familiar spot because, last offseason, they traded Jason Heyward after a 26 DRS season to the Cardinals for Shelby Miller. That move has worked out well for the Braves considering Heyward had just one season left on his deal. The Braves, as mentioned, were not competitive, and Shelby Miller enjoyed a bounce-back season and is under Braves' team control through 2018.

Of course, the main reason those moves are so rare is that there are not many defensive players in Simmons’ and Heyward’s class. In fact, Simmons may be the best modern defensive player. Over the last three seasons, Simmons has saved his team 94 runs. That is not only the most of any player over the last three seasons, it’s the most for any three-season period since 2003.

Most Runs Saved Over Three-Year Period Since 2003
Player Position Seasons Runs Saved
Andrelton Simmons SS 2013-2015 94
Andrelton Simmons SS 2012-2014 88
Adam Everett SS 2004-2006 79
Adam Everett SS 2005-2007 74
Brendan Ryan SS 2010-2012 71
Brendan Ryan SS/2B 2009-2011 69
Alex Gordon LF 2012-2014 67
Chase Utley 2B 2006-2008 67
Adrian Beltre 3B 2008-2010 67
Albert Pujols 1B 2007-2009 66
Albert Pujols 1B 2006-2008 66
Franklin Gutierrez CF/RF/LF 2007-2009 66
Yadier Molina C 2012-2014 66


The Angels will be the beneficiaries of the best defender in baseball now, and it could make a huge difference for them. Last season, their shortstops cost them three runs with their defense, so Simmons’ 2015 total of 25 DRS would have improved their overall defense close to 30 runs. Based on the generally accepted estimate of 10 runs per added win, that’s close to three additional wins. That could be a huge deal for a competitive team like the Angels. In fact, last season, three extra wins would not only have landed them a Wild Card spot over the Astros, it would have tied them for the division lead with the Rangers.


COMMENTS (14 Comments, most recent shown first)

Maris, aside from a position adjustment, I don't believe quality of fielding factors into similarity scores, at least on BBR.
6:36 AM Nov 21st
Don has probably read the Atlanta front office's mind. It's unlikely Albies will be the defender Simmons is: no one else is, either. But assuming he's close--comparable to Correa? to Lindor? to Seager?--how much of a gap will he close if he hits as he is projected to? Correa is not all that close to Simmons as a defender, but so far superior as a hitter that I doubt any one would not prefer him.
6:40 AM Nov 18th
The Braves reputedly have a very good young SS (Ozhaino Ablies) in the minors--this is hard to take too seriously, because he's only 19 right now (having just finished his age 18 season) and in A ball. But Simmons never hit in the minors as well as Albies has. Again, not that this means much. And Simmons appears to have been a better fielder (albeit 2-3 years older) in A ball than Albies has been.​
8:05 PM Nov 17th
Edward: Is he an even better fielder than Jeter?

(kidding) :-)

And yes, I'm looking forward to seeing him, which I will much more since he's coming to the A.L.
8:01 PM Nov 17th
This article would be useful if Atlanta and Anaheim just traded shortstops and if the only thing that mattered was 2016.
4:05 PM Nov 17th
DaveFleming's unusual. I don't know if this is true, but we could speculate two factors as contributing to the rebuild/firesale. First, they wanted to have a good team for the new stadium. Second, they looked at the Nats and thought there was no way they'd compete against a team that had Harper/Strasburg/Scherzer, at least not in '15-'16.

Another possibility is that one decision sort of triggered an avalanche. We can't re-sign Jay-Hey, so let's move him now. And since he's gone, there's no reason to pay top dough so Kimbrel can close for a 76-win team. Enjoy San Diego. Simmons is the second-coming of Ozzie, but we're in avalanche now....gotta ride it out. Let's swap him to bolster the farm system.

I suspect that's what happened in Atlanta. They didn't decide to blow up their young-and-talented core....they just made one decision that forced them to another decision, that led to another one....and suddenly the core was gone.
3:02 PM Nov 17th
I'm with Maris below. The Braves have spent the last two years "rebuilding" a team by trading away a great core of young players, almost all under 27. This isn't a rebuild. This is an owner who doesn't care how the team is doing. I haven't seen anything like this since the Marlins fire sale.
2:34 PM Nov 17th
He is actually as good as the numbers suggest. Easily the best I've ever seen (1990-2015). Treat yourself to some Angels games this year.
11:45 AM Nov 17th
(sorry, typo: should be "usually-reliable thing")
11:16 AM Nov 17th
P.S. Maybe there's nothing to this, but I think it's interesting even if not relevant.....
Is it possible he's not really as good a defensive player as these metrics invariably show him to be? I don't mean "not good," I mean not as good. I haven't seen him enough to have any opinion first-hand. The reason I'm wondering is this:

Usually, such a player's top "most similar at current age" players on are also top-flight fielders. Simmons' aren't particularly:

Jay Bell (972)
Shawon Dunston (967)
Toby Harrah (967)
Eddie Miller (966)
Jean Segura (965)
Roy Smalley (964)
Andujar Cedeno (963)
Alex Gonzalez (963)
Royce Clayton (962)
Rey Quinones (961)

I''m not saying that this trumps the metrics and makes them questionable. Just tossing this out, and wondering -- as I do whenever I see a usually-reliably thing that seems to go against something else.
11:15 AM Nov 17th
How does "rebuild" relate to such a trade, when the guy we're talking about having been traded is just 26?
10:48 AM Nov 17th
Sorry to harp, but I'm legitimately confused.

If I look at Yadi Molina's Total Runs page, it lists him as having saved 16 runs in 2012, 12 runs in 2013, and 8 runs in 2014. That's 36 runs saved. How do you come to 66 here?
9:50 AM Nov 17th
Actually, in your table at the beginning of the post you list Heyward with 26 runs saved in 2014. The 'stats' portion of the website here lists 32.

Which figure is correct?
9:04 AM Nov 17th
Missing from the list:

Heyward, 2013-2015: 72 runs saved
Heyward, 2012-2014: 68 runs saved.

Worth noting that both sets include his 2013 season, when he was limited to 104 games due to an appendectomy and a Jon Niese fastball to the jaw.
8:59 AM Nov 17th
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