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Thursday, October 3, 2013
Gerardo Parra: The Simmons of outfielders

By Mark Simon

All season long, Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons has been praised for his extraordinary defense, and rightfully so, given the success he and the Braves had in 2013.

But it's worth noting that there was another player in baseball with whom Simmons shared the major league lead in Defensive Runs Saved: Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra.

Both Simmons and Parra set the mark for the highest total in the 11-season history of the stat, with 41 Defensive Runs Saved.

But it was a heck of a final month by Parra to finish even with Simmons.

Parra won our voting for defensive player of the month on the strength of a major league-best 13 Defensive Runs Saved in September, beating out other worthy candidates, including Ryan Goins of the Blue Jays, Ben Zobrist of the Rays and Carlos Gomez of the Brewers.

Keith Olbermann noted during the highlights segment of one of his recent shows that Simmons was in a bit of a "defensive slump," and though that sounded odd, the numbers actually bore that out.

Simmons had just two Defensive Runs Saved in September and made an error that cost the Braves a game against the Nationals.

Parra's 13 DRS came partly on the strength of his arm. He threw out five baserunners who tried to advance on a hit or an error in a nine-day span, helping pad his defensive totals. He also made a host of Web Gem-worthy plays, including this ridiculous catch against the Dodgers.

That play was emblematic of how Parra accumulated Defensive Runs Saved with his glove. He rated among the very best in the majors at turning fly balls hit to the deepest parts of the ballpark into outs. Parra's run to the finish makes him a worthy candidate for Defensive Player of the Year honors, which we'll hand out in the near future.

Regardless, for now he shares a spot in the defensive record books for his work in 2013.