Now, Simmons' defense was good, not great. That became the narrative. But modern advance stats show that he wasn't as bad as earmarked. Yes, they stole on him a lot late. And he dealt with passed ball issues early on in his career. But he was also valiant back there.
Ron Fimrite captured the essence of Simmons in a 1978 Sports Illustrated profile. In that piece, Fimrite quoted Tim McCarver, the ex-Card then with the Phillies: “Sometimes I think the Cardinals are trying to kill him, catching him in all those games in that St. Louis heat. If they caught him 130 games instead of 150, he'd hit .360.
"What can you say about a man who switch-hits and has no weaknesses at the plate? He can wait on the curveball, and he's quick enough to get around on the fastball. If he played in Cincinnati, where the ball really carries, he'd hit from 30 to 35 home runs, the way Bench does. He plays in Death Valley and still hits more than 20."