On-Base Perception

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Travis d'Arnaud and Andrelton Simmons: A glove story

Travis d'Arnaud of the Mets looks on during

Travis d'Arnaud of the Mets looks on during a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

As Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons force-fed the Mets another bitter dose of his defensive magic, the worst view in the house belonged to Travis d’Arnaud. That’s because after hitting a grounder toward the hole in the eighth inning on Wednesday night, the Mets catcher lowered his head and busted down the first base line. It was as if he were reliving a recurring nightmare.

In many ways, he was.

“I put my head down because I’ve seen him do it numerous times to me,” d’Arnaud said of Simmons, who has a knack for taking away hits. “So, I knew that I had to run as fast as I could.”

The effort proved futile, of course, as Simmons made a brilliant play deep in the hole to preserve the Braves’ 3-2 victory over the Mets. It was just the latest episode of a tormentor picking on a favorite mark.

“Surprised? No,” d’Arnaud said in the clubhouse after the game. “I’ve seen him time and time again do it. He’s one of the best shortstops in the game, and he showed why today.”

Yep, d’Arnaud would know. He and Simmons have a history, and it has been quite one-sided. When he was asked how many hits he’s lost to the Gold Glove shortstop this season alone, d’Arnaud guessed four or five. We looked it up.

He wasn’t that far off:

1. April 9, Atlanta

D’Arnaud had an infield hit until Simmons lost his footing, went into an emergency slide, and popped up to his knees to make a powerful throw to first base. He threw the rocket after he’d landed on his fanny. True story. There’s video and everything.

Rating: Hella good

***

2. April 19, New York

With the Mets in the middle of a furious rally in the bottom of the ninth, d’Arnaud stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, his team down 7-5. But Simmons made an outstanding play in the hole, gliding to his right and backhanding the ball cleanly, before planting and making a powerful throw to first base. Game. Over.

Rating: Hella good

***

3. April 20, New York

In the 13th inning, d’Arnaud hit a grounder up the middle, testing Simmons’ range to his left. The shortstop fielded the ball and made an off-balance throw to first, barely getting d’Arnaud. The play didn’t have the same wow factor as the others on this list though Simmons made it look easy. (Sorry, I couldn't find a clip).

Rating: Strong, to quite strong.

***

4. July 9, New York 

D’Arnaud topped the ball off home plate, sending a slow bouncer up the middle. Forced to field the ball while throwing it in one motion, Simmons showcased his soft hands and his ability to fire from any angle. In this case, that happened to be near his shoetops. (Sadly, I couldn't find a clip for this one either).

Rating: Strong, to quite strong.

***

5. August 27, New York

Deep in the hole, Simmons plucked the ball, leaped to slow his momentum, then twisted his body so he could unleash a one-hop strike to first base. His Jeterian throw came from short leftfield, though it looked island Staten Island. Did we mention that Simmons was in mid-air? Instead of a game-tying hit in the eighth inning, d’Arnaud made the final out, reduced to a mere prop in one of the best defensive plays of the year.

Rating: CRIPES!

***

By our count, Simmons has single-handedly shaved 10 points off d'Arnaud's batting average.

Simmons has robbed d'Arnaud of at least three sure hits, and maybe as many as two more. Adding only those three unquestionable hits to d'Arnaud's ledger would bump up his batting average from .229 to .239. That's quite the d'Ifference.

Tags: Mets , Travis d'Arnaud , Andrelton Simmons

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