The Hot Stove season is fueled by debate. Ideas are hashed and rehashed; beliefs are shared and argued and changed. Some fans thrive on the endless speculation, enjoying it more than the baseball season itself. Others just engage in it to pass the time and have a connection to baseball until the weather warms, the flowers bloom, and the crack of the bat signals winter’s over. Me? If Opening Day were tomorrow, I would not complain a bit. But I must let nature run its course and Hot Stovers have their day in the overcast wintery weather…I mean sun. The debates over roster construction, team goals, and contract extensions have been cooking for awhile across baseball. Many valid points have been made and argued and many more will be made and argued over the next three months. Such is the life of a baseball fan during the offseason.

That Andrelton Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in the world and that Braves fans have been lucky enough to witness some incomparable plays he has made is not a point against which anyone can argue (wow, proper grammar can be awkward). Just 2+ seasons into his career, he has taken all of the suspense out of shortstop defensive awards. The man is insane.

However, there is one point surrounding Simmons’s defense that is debatable, and that is a point that Braves Journal is going to settle once and for all over this offseason: Which of Simmons’s jaw-dropping plays is his best?

To determine this answer with a throwback to Mac’s famous Road from Bristol, we’re going to follow the tried and true bracket method and the rules Mac laid out:

  • Vote for the play you think is the best of the two in the comments to the appropriate entry.
  • One person, one vote.
  • Posts shall remain active for at least 48 hours, at which time I will call the winner and close comments.
  • Other comments are welcome.
  • If a contest is close, I may send it to overtime. Contests may also remain up longer for weekends and holidays.
  • I am the sole judge.

While I could easily find 64 plays that are deserving of nomination for such a contest, for the sake of time we are only going to go with 32. I’ll do the initial condensing to get to those 32, but this is a democracy and I want everyone to have a voice.

Therefore, in this thread, please nominate any plays you would like to see in the contest, and include a video link if possible (so I can make sure I get the right play…and to save me the trouble of having to track down a video myself!) Also, such a contest is deserving of its own name, and my creative juices are just not flowing right now. If you come up with a catchy title, please share.

The grind of the baseball season can sometimes make it difficult to enjoy brilliance in the moment, so let’s take advantage of the lull of the offseason and bask in some highlights of outstanding defense. Come Spring Training the winner will be crowned and we will have permanently settled the issue of Simmons’s best play…at least until he makes his next one on Opening Day.