Yesterday, we saw some rumors pop up about the Phillies and their shortstop position.
Phillies have interest in Andrelton Simmons. Reds, Jays among others involved.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 25, 2021
This rumor is somewhat new since we haven’t heard much previously connected the Phillies and Simmons outside of someone digging up a video from the past where he mentions how much he likes playing in Philadelphia.
What we have heard about is the team’s interest in bringing back Didi Gregorius and how the market seemed to be heading that way.
The Phillies are interested in bringing back Didi Gregorius and the market is trending in their favor.https://t.co/jmVkNZU36M— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 16, 2021
It’s an interesting contrast between the two players. Both are clear-cut shortstops, but one is more noted for the offense he brings to the position and the other is one of the greatest defenders to ever man the position. Which one would the make the Phillies a more complete team?
Let’s look at what each player brings offensively to the position.
Over the past three seasons, the two players have had pretty much the same amount of plate appearances. In fact, due to injuries to both players that have cost them each some time, they are separated by only one plate appearances.
Didi vs. Simmons with the bat
While it’s pretty obvious that neither one of them are exactly known for their patience, they have different approaches to what they want to accomplish. Simmons is more of a contact hitter that doesn’t have much power, while Gregorius has taken advantage of playing in more hitter friendly environments to post more power numbers than Simmons. Both have the ability to avoid the strikeout, though Simmons is slightly better at doing so.
So adding either one would have a different effect on the lineup. Adding Gregorius would be adding a more potent bat to the lineup since his ability to hit the ball out of the park would make him more dangerous. Adding Simmons would be adding a more contact oriented batter to the lineup, something that could be beneficial to a team that struck out 21.6% of the time in 2020. They weren’t bad at all (7th best in the game), but getting someone that can put the ball in play often is a good thing.
While those numbers represent the past three years, we almost always look at the most recent season to see if there was something affecting the overall numbers. We know what Gregorius brought to the team last year, but in Anaheim, Simmons was having one of his better seasons with the bat. He didn’t hit for much power (only a .356 slugging percentage), but his 98 wRC+ represents a solid offensive season. The one issue with Simmons and his offense is that while 2020 was a good year for him, there were some red flags that might indicate it wasn’t as good as the surface numbers appear. His .343 BABIP indicates that a lot of his batting average was the result of luck, while his strikeout rate (12.6%) was the highest of his career.
Didi Gregorius is a good defensive shortstop. He solidified the Phillies’ infield last year by giving them the good glove they had been lacking since Freddy Galvis left the team a few years ago. After watching Jean Segura struggle at the six in 2019 and Scott Kingery being forced into the spot in 2018, having Gregorius there in 2020 was quite soothing for the team defensively.
The problem is that no one is as good as Simmons with the glove. There might be flashier (Javier Baez), others that we as National League watchers see and find to possibly be a bit underrated despite the greatness with the glove (Fernando Tatis), over his career, there has been no one better than Andrelton Simmons at shortstop. We just may not realize it since by the time his team is on television, we are headed to bed.
How far back do you want to go? Using Fangraphs, since 2012, when he entered the league, Simmons leads all shortstops in defensive WAR with 160.1. In fact, the gap between Simmons and the second place name on that list is bigger than second place and thirteenth place. Judging someone defensively is always going to have the tinge of subjectiveness to it, but there isn’t much subjective about Simmons and his defense. His addition would instantly make the team better and cover the shortcomings that Alec Bohm currently has with the glove.
When it comes to adding one of these two shortstops, it’s going to be a matter of preference. We can see that adding Gregorius would more than likely be a better decision if they want to make sure they have a top flight offense, but it’s not as though Simmons is a slouch with the stick. It’s just a different approach to the game offensively.
Going with Simmons might seem like the team is prioritizing defense over offense, but as we saw last year, Gregorius is solid with the glove and is not that much of a downgrade. It’s almost as if signing them is a sort of “win-win” situation where a part of the team’s overall performance will be elevated depending on which player is signed.
It may simply come down to which player takes the one year deal that the team is thought to prefer. With the upcoming free agent class containing three, maybe four, very good to great shortstops, the team looks like they are going to be interested in bringing one of them to Philadelphia. That would mean whichever of the two is signed for 2021 would represent a temporary solution that helps the 2021 while not clogging up the team’s payroll for 2022. Of course, it could also solve some problems if the team signs one of them for two years, meaning they won’t be left stranded by the free agents next year and left with nothing.
So, of the two possible shortstop solutions for 2021, which is your preference?
Who would you rather see playing shortstop for the Phillies in 2021?
This poll is closed