Posted by John Dewan on December 16, 2015
November 16, 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|
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|
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.