If you sat down at the beginning of the season and created a list of potential All-Star candidates, I would bet a lot of money that Andrés Gimenez was not on that list. However, if you were to recreate that list today, Andrés Gimenez should be on that list. In 44 games, he has hit remarkably well while maintaining his signature defense. Let us take a look at Andrés Gimenez’s career and how he got himself to be a candidate for this year’s All-Star race.
The Call Up
Gimenez got his shot at Major League Baseball in the shortened 2020 season. The 2019 year had been a mix of ups and downs for Gimenez. He spent the 2019 season with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, the Double-A team of the New York Mets. He struggled for most of the year. His final slash-line of .250/.309/.387 was nothing to write home about and he failed to show the power gains that many scouts thought he would. He only managed 9 home runs, 22 doubles, and 5 triples in 432 at-bats.
Following the season, Gimenez was given a spot in the Arizona Fall League. Here, his year took a complete turn. He won the Batting Title by hitting .371 in 18 games. He also hit 5 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 home runs in 70 at-bats. Even though it was a small sample size, the batting average was a very positive sign for the 21-year-old. It also seemed like there might be a little more power emerging. During his year with the Rumble Ponies, he ended 8% of his at-bats with an extra-base hit. In the Arizona Fall League, 13% of his at-bats ended with an extra-base hit. It wasn’t a definitive sign of more power but it showed potential.
Gimenez’s performance in the Arizona Fall League was likely a key element in joining the Mets following the 2020 restart. His opportunity was also likely aided by the roster changes established to deal with COVID-19.
They were unique conditions to start an MLB career, but Gimenez took the opportunity. He played 49 of the 60 games, sometimes as a starter and other times as a defensive replacement. He hit .263 with average OPS numbers. More importantly, Gimenez played excellent defense and swiped 8 bases.
He proved to be a solid infielder for the Mets in 2020 and caught the interest of another team.
For many baseball fans, their first introduction to Andrés Gimenez might have been through the trade between the NY Mets and Cleveland Indians (now Guardians) prior to the 2021 season. The Met’s acquisitions, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, headlined the deal. Leading the players they sent away were two shortstops with MLB experience, Amed Rosario and Andrés Gimenez.
While Lindor had a difficult season with the Mets, Gimenez had his own struggles. He started the year with the Indians and played 29 games before being sent down to the Columbus Clippers. In April, he hit .200 with only 2 home runs. The start to May was not any better as he only managed to go 3 for 23 in 10 games. None of these hits went for extra-bases.
Gimenez was sent back to Triple-A in late May. He had a great June and a successful July which put him in a position to head back to the Majors in early August. While Gimenez’s season as a whole was quite a struggle, he ended on a high note. September was his best month with the Indians. He raised his batting average to .279 for the month and had 4 doubles to go along with 3 home runs. Not an amazing month compared to the rest of the league but an improvement for Gimenez.
Andrés Gimenez in 2022
Coming into this year, Gimenez had played all of the shortened 2020 season and some of the 2021 season. He had only logged 117 games in the MLB, but never showed great offensive capabilities at the Major League level. He seemed to be an excellent defender with good speed that could hopefully provide slightly above-average offense. Looking at his record in the Major Leagues, it is difficult to picture Gimenez doing as well as he has this year. That being said, he has done it and it is great to see.
A quick look through Gimenez’s Baseball Savant page shows that the key to his success is simply more good contact. His max exit velocity is not any higher than it has been in previous years. Yet, his average exit velocity is up 3mph from 2020 and 2021. He has tripled the percentage of his at-bats that result in a barrel. His HardHit% (balls hit 95+mph) is also up to 42% from 30%.
All the advanced statistics back up Gimenez’s success. This is a great sign. It means Gimenez’s performance for the first half of this season may be sustainable. Some players have successful months because balls that do not usually fall for hits are falling for hits, this is not the case for Gimenez. He is making contact that warrants the results he has had so far this year.
Gimenez has been making a lot more hard contact this year, and it is paying off for him. His batting average is up to .309, a number he has only hit in the previously mentioned Arizona Fall League and in his first year in the Dominican Summer League. The home run numbers are also up. He seems to be developing some of the power scouts thought he was capable of.
Andrés Gimenez has looked really good for the Guardians and he is still only 23. Sometimes we forget how young certain MLB players are. Some guys like Juan Soto and Mike Trout become stars almost as soon as they turn 20. Other guys take a few years longer. Pete Alonso was 24 when he had his amazing rookie season. Baseball’s top prospect and recent call-up, Adley Rutschman, is currently 24 years old. Gimenez will reach that mark in September.
Gimenez has over 3 years before he turns 27, the age most people consider to be a player’s prime. He also has a lot of room to keep improving. A lot of the top hitters end up above or around 50% in HardHit%, Gimenez is at 42% this year. His max exit velocity of 110.2 is also fairly low, but he may still have some room for this to increase. Also, his on-base percentage is good but not great. If he continues to hit well this year, pitchers are going to be more particular with the pitches they give him and he should get more free passes.
Making the Playoffs
The Guardians are currently 28-26 on the season. They have not been great but they are in a decent position to make the playoffs. They are half a game out of a Wild Card spot with all 3 teams ahead of them being AL East teams. At least one of those teams is likely to fall by the end of the season when teams have more games within their division. The Guardians just need to hold off the teams behind them. If they play well enough, they also have a shot at winning their division.
For the Guardians to reach the playoffs, Gimenez and the other young Guardians players need to continue their early play. You can almost count on Jose Ramirez having a great year but the rest of the team seems far from a sure thing. They have succeeded so far but will it continue? Gimenez seems to be in a good position to do so.
Read More: Paul Goldschmidt is likely to be an All-Star starter this year. One of the more underrated parts of his game is his baserunning. Click here to read about Goldschmidt’s ability to steal bases.