BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Through his first three full seasons at the Major League level, Andrelton Simmons has established himself as one of baseball's top defensive shortstops and has garnered comparisons to the great Ozzie Smith, a true defensive wizard whose glove earned him an eternal residency in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Thus there was some reason to be surprised when the Giants' Brandon Crawford was named the National League's Rawlings Gold Glove shortstop on Tuesday night. Simmons had garnered this award in the past two years.
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"I think [Simmons] is the best defensive player in the history of the game," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "I think he's somebody who brings so much value. When you've got young pitching behind him, outs are outs and hits are outs. It's like [Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez] always says, 'The next play is his best play.' He's a joy to watch."
Unfortunately for Simmons, this lofty assertion held by Coppolella was not shared by the majority of those who voted for this year's Gold Glove Awards.
This year's winners were selected by ballots cast by managers and coaches using statistical data that included Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating, Runs Effectively Defended, Defensive Regression Analysis and Total Zone Rating. Simmons led all NL shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved (25), Ultimate Zone Rating (17.3) and Fangraphs' Defensive Runs Above Average (23.9), which accounts for fielding runs and positional adjustment. Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria had a slight advantage (17.7 to 17.5) over the Braves shortstop in the UZR/150 category.
Since the start of the 2013 season, Simmons has been awarded a Major League-best 94 DRS. Former Braves right fielder Jason Heyward ranks second with 69. Cincinnati's Zack Cozart and Crawford are tied for second among NL shortstops during that span with 30.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.