Simmons' adjustment pays dividends at plate

Angels shortstop sees improvement after implementing toe tap

Simmons' adjustment pays dividends at plate

ANAHEIM -- When he first came off the 15-day disabled list on June 15, Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons didn't feel right at the plate.

It wasn't his surgically repaired left thumb which, while not 100 percent, has not limited Simmons. He just felt off, and was unable to properly square up the baseball.

"My balance was messing with my timing," Simmons said. "I was putting my body in a bad spot. Even when I would time the ball well, it made me maybe get under the ball or come around and be a little off. It's little stuff that made me miss really hitting the ball well."

Shortly before starting the team's series against Oakland on Thursday, Simmons decided to revert to something that had served him well in the past during his time with the Braves, choosing to go with a toe tap instead of his regular leg kick when approaching the ball.

The impact was immediate.

He broke an 0-for-14 skid in the series opener by going 2-for-4. He got another hit Friday, scoring a run. Saturday night, he flashed some pop in lacing a double over center fielder Billy Burns' head to cap off a 2-for-3 day. Sunday, he provided his most clutch performance by going 2-for-3 with a walk and driving home the game-tying run in the eighth inning.

"I just feel like I'm in a better rhythm now with it," Simmons said. "Better balance, and I just feel more quiet and relaxed at the plate."

Manager Mike Scioscia has taken notice, also choosing to highlight Simmons' pitch selection as a reason for his turnaround. Simmons has put the ball in play at a higher rate than anyone on the team this season, striking out only 10 times and walking seven times in 159 plate appearances, but that hasn't always led to success.

"You can't equate putting the ball in play with pitch selection," Scioscia said. "Recognition, maybe, but a lot of times you're so confident you're going to put the ball in play that you're not looking for your hot zone and getting too aggressive."

For most of his career, Simmons' offensive production has been dwarfed by his spectacular play defensively. The defense has continued in his return, whether it's turning a simple grounder into a double play or displaying awareness as a cutoff man to nail a runner rounding first base like he did to Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien on Friday. While his injured thumb hasn't slowed his elite abilities on defense, it seems like the offense is coming around for the first time since the Angels traded for him this offseason.

"I have my own expectations [on offense]," Simmons said. "I know what I'm capable of doing. I've done it before, so I know that sometimes even when I'm not feeling good the results haven't been there. But I'm not listening to people saying I should do this or I should do that when I'm at the plate."

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.