Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  By ZACH DILLARD  |  Last updated 10/25/13
Stop the presses: Andrelton Simmons is being recognized for his defensive abilities again. The 24-year-old shortstop turned heads throughout the 2013 regular season with his fielding wizardry and yes, he even drew comparisons to The Wizard, Ozzie Smith, during the year and now he's but one step away from claiming his first career Gold Glove. Rawlings, the company which hands out baseball's top fielding awards per position, announced its finalists on Friday. Two Braves players, Simmons and Jason Heyward (right field), made the cut. However, unlike Simmons, Heyward may be behind the 8-ball when it comes to capturing his second straight Gold Glove after missing significant time during the season and due to the stiff competition from Arizona's Gerardo Parra and Jay Bruce. Simmons, on the other hand, was in a league of his own this season at short. With 41 defensive runs saved, both Simmons and Parra set the highest-ever mark in the 11-season history of the statistic tracked by Baseball Info Solutions. The next-closest shortstops in either league were Pittsburgh's Clint Barmes and Minnesota's Pedro Florimon tied at 12 runs saved. The two other National League finalists at short, Troy Tulowitzki (6 DRS) and Ian Desmond (-3 DRS), were not even in the same hemisphere as Simmons' lofty defensive metrics. The sabermetric evaluation of defense is more important than ever this season, too, as Rawlings teamed up with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) to create the first-of-its-kind relationship between official MLB awards and the advanced statistics community. By creating the SABR Defensive Index which factors in defensive runs saved along with four other existing metrics approximately 25 percent of the Gold Glove vote will be devoted to advanced stats. That bodes well for guys like Simmons and Parra, who, if not already recognized by voters as two of the very best defensive players in baseball, should run away with that portion of the voting system. Gold Glove winners will be unveiled on Nov. 8.
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