ATLANTA -- If Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons continues robbing Travis d'Arnaud of base hits, the Mets catcher might have a right to file a criminal complaint.
Simmons' latest act of thievery occurred during the third inning of Friday night's home-opening 5-3 win at Turner Field. Atlanta's acrobatic shortstop wowed a sold-out crowd when he ranged into the outfield grass beyond third base and backhanded d'Arnaud's grounder while generating enough push off his left foot to make a strong and accurate jump throw to first baseman Freddie Freeman, who made an impressive stretch to record the out.
"That's what, the seventh or eighth hit he's taken from me?" d'Arnaud said. "All you can do is smile."
d'Arnaud had reason to stare in disbelief while once again becoming the victim of one of Simmons' highlight plays. In fact, this defensive gem looked a lot like one of the two Simmons produced at the catcher's expense during an Aug. 27 game at Citi Field last year.
During that contest, Simmons ended the eighth inning with a jaw-dropping play that looked nearly identical to the play completed on Friday night. d'Arnaud also looked astonished at the end of that play, partly because one inning earlier, the Braves shortstop had backhanded one of his grounders in the infield dirt before making a throw to first base to record an out.
"It's just another day for him, but yeah, that is one of the best I've seen from him with that," Braves infielder Phil Gosselin said. "I mean jump-throwing from left field and throwing a laser to first? He wows you every single day."
Simmons has won a National League Gold Glove Award in each of the past two seasons. The 25-year-old shortstop entered Friday having compiled a Major League-best 70 Defensive Runs Saved. No other shortstop had more than 23.
Having played alongside Simmons each of the past two seasons, Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said he shouldn't have been surprised by what transpired Friday night after he dove for the d'Arnaud grounder that Simmons gloved in the grass.
"I'm done diving," Johnson said. "He's that good. To not only be able to get to a ball that was that far away from him, but to throw and not even have the ball even bounce."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.