Originally written on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 10/20/14
In his literary masterpiece "The Art of Fielding" author Chad Harbach summed up the position as well as anyone. "The shortstop is a source of stillness at the center of the defense," Harbach wrote. "He projects this stillness and his teammates respond." The Braves have been anything but still at shortstop of late, throwing everybody but the batboy out there when Andrelton Simmons went down with a boxer's break to the right hand last season. But when the 23-year-old Simmons came back, he seemed to be better than ever, which was a huge relief for Fredi Gonzalez. Still there are some burning questions for the young, lanky infielder as the Braves polish the roster and prepare for spring training. Where will he bat? Simmons' on-base percentage is 335, which would hint at a two or three spot, but the best and most productive place to put him would be leading off. With Michael Bourn's free-agency status still in the wings, the one slot is in need of a solid on-base guy with good speed and instincts. After a year of learning under the tutelage of Chipper Jones, Simmons could well fill that role. Of course, the same could be said of Martin Prado, who successfully fills any role handed to him, or B.J. Upton who batted leadoff with some success during his stint with the Tampa Bay Rays. But good money says Fredi will give Simmons a whirl at the top of the lineup, at least for awhile. Can he learn to take a walk? Simmons needs to watch a few more borderline pitches, especially if he is in the leadoff spot. He had 21 strikeouts and only a dozen walks in 2012. Experience should help on that front, especially given the agony he seems to feel with each strikeout. This is a kid who takes his at-bats personally. If he can show a little more patience at the plate, he could live up to the potential Bill James sees. James projects Simmons to get on base at a .351 pace, which would make him the best leadoff hitter (if that's here he ends up) the Braves have had since the glory days of Rafael Furcal. Can he stay healthy? A broken hand is one of those fluke injuries that could happen to anyone. But shortstop is, by nature, an injury-laden position. More balls are hit there than any other spot on the field and the longest and most awkward throws come from short as well. It is rare that a shortstop goes an entire season without something: a hamstring, an ankle, a shoulder that needs a little rest. To get through two or three seasons without a stint on the DL is a near miracle. The question isn't whether or not Simmons get hurt, it's how seriously will he be hurt and how quickly will he recover? If last year is any indication, he heals like a healthy 23-year-old. The Braves need to hope that bounce-back ability continues. How will he react to a new man on his right? Fredi doesn't seem worried about the retirement of Chipper Jones. Perhaps it's because he had a year to prep for the future Hall of Famer's retirement, or maybe it's because he knew he had plenty of potential candidates to fill the spot, including Prado, the most versatile guy on the team. But perhaps who fills Chipper's spot won't be as crucial as how Simmons responds to who fills Chipper's spot. When you've been mentored by a legend, it's not always easy to adjust a new guy at your right hand. How that transition works out will say a lot of about the future of the shortstop position for the Braves and how well Simmons fits in to that picture.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Federal judge blocks New Jersey sports betting law

Report: Bucs sign Gerald McCoy to seven-year extension

Tim Tebow lectures Florida fans about booing

Report: Shonn Greene arrested after parking in handicap spot

Report: Joe Maddon wants a very hefty salary

Memorabilia dealer at center of Todd Gurley scandal fired

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Colt McCoy on learning he was starting ‘it’s about f—ing time’

Four Questions for Game 3 of the World Series

Percy Harvin not planning on changing

Ricky Williams: People are let down when I turn down weed

Randall Cobb: Contract situation played role in slow start

Notre Dame WR faces discipline if he hooked up with porn star?

Penn State fans blew air horns outside Ohio State's hotel?

WATCH: Oregon's Charles Nelson has impressive punt return TD

WATCH: Blue Jackets player takes skate across the face

WATCH: American flag rips during Game 3 national anthem

WATCH: Tony Parker draws foul by simply yelling 'hey'

Video: Tom Izzo takes the stage with KISS on Midnight Madness

Eight NFL records that won’t be broken for a long time

Big trouble for Bruins: Chara out 4-6 weeks, possibly more

Blazers, Seahawks owner Paul Allen gives $100M to fight ebola

'FIFA 15' glitch turns goalie into headless giant with no arms

WATCH: HBO releases trailer of 'The Offseason: Kevin Durant'

Broncos corner snags INT, then takes pregnant wife to hospital

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Tim Tebow lectures Florida fans

Trouble for Bruins: Chara out 4-6 weeks

Joe Maddon opts out of contract with Rays

NBA Replay Center debuts next week

World Series win = Giants dynasty?

Reliving the worst college football game of the last 10 years

NFL teams facing must-win scenarios in Week 8

What the return of Luis Suarez means for Barcelona

Programs with a lot on the line this week

Wilson denies rumored Harvin rift

Lakers: Steve Nash out for season

Is Mack Brown SMU's best option?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.