Gold Glover Simmons’ bat coming around

NEW YORK — In his first two full seasons in the majors, the Braves' Andrelton Simmons earned two Gold Gloves, one Platinum Glove, and reputation as the best defensive shortstop in at least a decade and perhaps a generation or more.

But Simmons also entered the 2015 season lugging a career .252 batting average, .297 on-base percentage and .372 slugging percentage in 352 games over 2 ½ seasons since reaching the majors. And it was common for descriptions of his preternatural defensive skills and instincts to be accompanied after a comma something along the lines of, “if he could only hit.”

Well, don’t look now, but Simmons is hitting.

He had four hits and a walk in Saturday’s 11-inning win against the Mets, raising his average to .276 and his on-base percentage to .335 before Sunday’s series finale. In 40 games since the beginning of May, Simmons was batting .292 (45-for-154) with 11 extra-base hits (two homers) and a .355 OBP.

“He’s starting to figure out how to really hit,” Braves third baseman Chris Johnson. “It’s weird, usually you don’t have guys have, like, the power first, and then learn how to hit. But he’ll get that power back.”

Simmons had 17 homers in his first full season in 2013, and has 10 homers in 209 games since. But he had a solid .396 slugging percentage in his past 40 games before Sunday.

“He (still) swings hard, but he’s not trying to dead-pull everything,” Johnson said. “He’s staying up the middle, he takes his hits the other way.”

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said since spring training that Simmons had taken to the approach taught by Kevin Seitzer, and after a slow start he’s been steady.

“The approach – we talked about it in April, and he has kept it now for two solid months,” Gonzalez said. “The approach to hit the ball up the middle and to the right side.”