Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports When Francisco Lindor was traded to the New York Mets before the 2021 season, Cleveland fans were understandbale upset about the moving the best shortstop […]
Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
When Francisco Lindor was traded to the New York Mets before the 2021 season, Cleveland fans were understandbale upset about the moving the best shortstop Cleveland had since Omar Vizquel. However, they were getting two solid MLB ready players in return along with some minor leaguers, Amed Rosario and shortstop Andrés Giménez.
Giménez had constantly been ranked near the top of the Mets top prospects lists ever since he was signed as an international free agent in 2015 at the age of 16. In fact, according to Baseball America, Giménez was ranked as the second-best international prospect in the 2015 class that year, with the only guy ahead of him being someone people might have heard of. His name is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Giménez signed with the Mets and for the next five years, began working his way to the show.
After a solid 2020 campaign that saw him bat .263 in 49 games with the Mets, Giménez joined Cleveland for the 2021 season, where he quickly rose through spring training. He was announced as the starting shortstop for the start of the 2021 season. Giménez struggled mightily to start the year. By mid-May, he was batting .179 and was had already committed six errors in just the first 42 games of the season. Everything was going sour, and so on May 21st, Giménez was optioned to the Columbus Clippers (AAA).
There could have been a lot of factors going into his 2021 struggles. Ever since he was signed at age 16 in 2015, Giménez had been part of the Mets. He progressed through their farm system, learned under the Mets tutelage and made his debut with New York in 2020. Then, he’s suddenly traded to a new organization in the opposite league in a deal for one of the top shortstops in baseball in Francisco Lindor. A lot of very high expectations were put on him because of the last shortstop, and when he didn’t live up to it right away, people become impatient.
Giménez spent the next few months of the season in Columbus. Ironically, this ended up being one of the best things to happen to Giménez as he changed his approach at the plate, changed his stance and focused on perfecting his defense. The results began to show over time. In 52 games with the Clippers, Giménez batted .287 with 10 home runs, 31 RBI and 13 doubles. His OPS also rose to .844.
Seeing the newfound confidence in Giménez, Cleveland called him back up in August. With an adjusted batting stance that saw him raise his bat a little higher above his shoulder, he was able to get more of a fluid, straight swing. Cleveland immediately noticed a difference in Giménez production at the plate and in the field. Over the final 39 games of the season, Giménez was 27 for 110, or an average of .245. However, he had a very good end to the season as he recorded 13 hits over his final 13 games and was able to raise his batting to .218 to end the season. His best month was September, where he batted .279 with three home runs and nine RBI for the month.
In the field, he showed tremendous improvement. He was switched over to second base for the majority of the 39 games to end the year, where in 25 games at second, he only committed one error and was far more efficient. He was able to raise his fielding percentage to .965, which is far better than what it was at the beginning of 2021.
Entering spring training this season, everyone in the Guardians organization was very high on Giménez, including Manager Terry Francona.
“I think it’s encouraging he showed up with the same batting stance that he did to end last year,” Francona said. “It got him into a little bit of bind. He’s someone that can see the whole field, and he’s got some power.”
Giménez showed everyone during spring training why their confidence in him was legit. In 25 at-bats over 11 games, Giménez batted .366 with nine hits and four RBI. He was generating more walks and striking out less, something he struggled with a lot during the 2021 season. He felt much more confident at the plate compared to last year, which he echoed.
“Yeah, I feel much more comfortable now than I did a year ago,” Giménez said.
If you’ve been following our site and writers over the season, you’ll know I picked Giménez as the most improved hitter for the 2022 season and the most likely along with Steven Kwan to breakout as a hitter. 28 games into the season, Giménez has had arguably the best turnaround out of any Guardian, and that’s saying a lot because there have been quite a few including Owen Miller. Giménez is currently batting .333 with three home runs, four doubles, two triples, and only 19 strikeouts on the year. His on-base percentage currently is .345 and his slugging percentage sits at .571. However, some of his teammates have been hitting so well that his .333 average is tied for the second highest on the team behind Josh Naylor, who’s been unbelievable the last two games as he’s hit three home runs and nine RBI to shoot him up to an average of .347. For Giménez however, the crazy part is that the high numbers are because of the ridiculous streak he’s been on.
He is in the middle of a great hitting streak where he has 17 hits over his last 12 games, that’s 17 hits in 46 at-bats (.370) with two home runs, four doubles, and 11 RBI. During that stretch, he is in the top five in the American League for hitters during that stretch. However, as Giménez will tell you, he is very, very superstitious and doesn’t like to be reminded of any streak he’s on because he doesn’t like to mess with karma.
For as much as his hitting has improved, the plays Giménez has been able to make in the field this season have been nothing short of tremendous. Arguably his best defensive plays of the year all came in an 8-2 victory over the Blue Jays on May 7. Pitcher Triston McKenzie echoed what so many have said about his playmaking ability in the infield.
“Knowing the guys are going to go out there and make plays behind me, especially great plays like that. I was kind of shocked at the second one. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be there and then I turned around and he was there. So, I was just happy.”
Two things to know about Giménez: he’s very superstitious and he always puts the team above anything else or any individual accomplishment.
“The plays that I have to make to help the team win, are important to me,” Giménez explained. “Whether it’s offense or defense, whichever I can make to help the team win.”
“I know the type of player that I am,” Giménez explained. “Fortunately, this year we’ve had positive results. My focus however is always about trying to help the team.”
With a series against the AL Central leading Twins coming up, the Guardians will keep looking to players like Giménez to pull through for them, especially late in games, where the majority of his RBI come. It is a long season however, and no matter what happens to him or if he stays hot or goes cold, Giménez says he will always do what whatever his team needs him to do to help them win.