MINNEAPOLIS – There’s a reason the Guardians were adamant that middle infielder Andrés Giménez be included in the return package from the Mets for former Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor in January 2021. Now, we’re starting to see why.
Giménez has been a source of consistency for Cleveland this season, both in the field and at the plate, and that rang true once again on Saturday evening at Target Field when he delivered a clutch go-ahead RBI double in the top of the 10th inning that helped lift the Guardians to a 3-2 victory over the Twins.
“Big hits. Clutch hits,” acting manager Carl Willis said of Giménez. “You know, he’s done it a couple times now on this road trip.”
It started with his solo homer in the top of the ninth inning on Monday that sparked a six-run comeback to tie the game. The next frame, he delivered once again with a go-ahead double. And in the series opener at Target Field on Friday, he launched a two-run homer in the ninth to try to keep his team in contention.
That’s why it didn’t surprise anyone when Giménez was the man of the hour again on Saturday. With the automatic runner on second, Giménez led off the frame with a double (that was granted on an obstruction call after he collided with first baseman Jose Miranda) off the right-field wall to give the Guardians the lead.
“I feel like he’s come through every single time,” said Guardians center fielder Myles Straw, who knocked in an insurance run that proved to be decisive after Giménez’s double. “He’s been great for us. He’s the one that got that inning going. He needs to keep doing what he’s doing. He’s doing an amazing job, and a big part of that inning goes to him.”
The moments that we’ve highlighted have only happened in the past four games, but Giménez has consistently delivered for Cleveland since the season got underway. Entering the night, he owned a .444 average with three doubles, two triples, three homers, 18 RBIs and a 1.485 OPS when batting with runners in scoring position. His clutch hit on Saturday added another double and RBI into that mix.
And when the pressure is higher, Giménez has appeared to be even more comfortable. When he comes to the plate with runners in scoring position and two outs, he’s hit .539 (7-for-13) with a whopping 1.956 OPS. Although he’s had to bounce back and forth between shortstop and second base, his bat has not been affected, as his offensive numbers are nearly identical in games he started at either position.
“I don’t know, I just see the ball pretty well here,” Giménez said of hitting at Target Field. “Basically every day I just go out there and try to be consistent and help the team win.”
Giménez gave Cleveland a taste of what he could become in his first Spring Training with the club in 2021. But after he was awarded his natural position of shortstop to start the season, his bat didn’t quite look the same as it did in Arizona. Through his first 29 games last year, Giménez hit a mere .180 with a .534 OPS. He was optioned to Triple-A Columbus to get himself back on track, leaving the door wide open for Amed Rosario to settle in at short (and he did). When Giménez returned in August, he mostly spent his time at second base and hardly got himself above the Mendoza line.
But if there was any concern that the Guardians lost out on their Lindor trade, Giménez has wasted no time in easing those worries in 2022. After 29 games last year, he was shipped to Triple-A. After he wrapped up his 29th game of the season on Saturday night, Giménez owns a .326 average with a .906 OPS.
It’ll take more than a strong month to determine how big of a role Giménez can play for the Guardians in the future, but the consistency he’s displayed so far can only lead us to believe he’s on the right path.
“Yeah, he’s a very, very talented player,” Straw said. “I knew that even with his struggles. He can field the ball like no other. He can drive the ball. He can hit for average. He can steal bases. I mean, there’s not really a flaw to his game. I think he just needed the confidence and all those reps.
“You’re finally seeing the player he can be, and I think he’s gonna be this kind of a player for a long time.”