Andrelton Simmons’ Weak Left Ankle is Biggest Concern

The Minnesota Twins made their first splash move of the 2021 offseason on Tuesday when they signed shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a 1-year, $10.5 million contract.

Simmons is knows for his historically good defense, winning FOUR gold gloves and ranking near the top of defensive WAR metrics that go beyond my time. Still, he hasn’t been the same guy for the last two seasons and ankle injuries have been to blame, specifically his left ankle.

In 2019, Simmons played just 103 games (102 at shortstop and one at DH) because of his bum left ankle and 2020 was even worse, competing in only 30 of the Angels’ 60 games and opting out of the season with 5 contests still on the schedule.

Injured more than healthy

Andrelton Simmons missed 90 games during the 2019-2020 seasons combined and he played through his left ankle injuries for 83 of the games he did play in. So, that’s a total of 173 games over the last two seasons where Simmons either sat out or played through his ankle injuries, meaning he played just 49 games while fully healthy.

His injuries have shown themselves on the field and in the box scores. For example, Simmons started 2019 posting some of the best numbers in his career. But on game 47 (May 20) vs the Minnesota Twins, Simba lunged to beat out a close play at 1st base and that’s where everything changed (see video and table below).

He sat for over a month after this play and his offensive production fell off a cliff when he returned over a month later for (game 82 – June 27 vs the Oakland A’s).

Simmons in 2019BAOBPSLGOPS
Before Injury (45 gms).298.323.415.738
After Injury (57 gms).233.297.319.616

Below-average defender in 2020

But even when Andrelton Simmons struggled from the plate to finish 2019, his defense was mostly there. The defensive metrics show some drop-offs, but nothing that would be overly concerning.

2020 however, was the opposite. Simmons hurt his left ankle again, this time in game 5 of 60. He would sit out for just short of one month, missing 23 games in that span. He returned, however, as a better hitter and posted numbers all above his career average (.297 BA, .356 SLG, .702 OPS, 95 OPS+)… but crashed back to earth defensively.

Simmons DefenseGamesRdrsRF/9RF/GFld%
2013 – GG150304.984.74.981
2014 – GG146194.434.30.978
2017 – GG158404.414.25.980
2018 – GG145234.304.14.984
baseball-reference – Rdrs: Defensive Runs Saved Above Average, RF: Range Factor

All of the 2020 numbers you see in the chart above are below the league average. We’re talking about a guy who won gold gloves with his defensive numbers in 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018 (and should have in 2015 and 2016 if you go by the numbers above).

Whatever was holding Simmons back on defense in 2020 caused him to opt-out of the season before it was over and now he’s coming over to play with the Twins.

If healthy, the Twins got a steal

If healthy, which we’ve all been lead to believe he is, Andrelton Simmons will be an asset for the Minnesota Twins, both in the field and at the plate.

His defense has spoken for itself throughout his entire career and his hitting has improved with age. But if Andrelton Simmons were to tweak that ankle again, I worry we could be in for a Josh Donaldson 2020 season all over again.

Given the injury and depth concerns already on this roster… that could be a problem.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan