Some eyebrows were raised when Andres Gimenez made the Opening Day roster once the 2020 season got underway. But manager Luis Rojas has done a good job finding ways to get Gimenez’ feet wet. He’s come in as a defensive replacement in his first five games and now he’s been the starter five of his last seven games. He certainly figures to start a bunch more as long as Robinson Cano remains on the IL and he has the chance to establish himself as someone who needs to be in the lineup more times than not.

Gimenez was long considered one of the Mets’ top prospects, first for his youth and then later for his production, too. But the 2019 season was the first time that he dealt with major adversity since beginning his professional career.

After a solid debut in Double-A after a mid-year promotion in 2018, some thought he might start 2019 in Triple-A. But the Mets chose to return him to Binghamton last year. With Amed Rosario essentially learning on the job in the majors, there was no reason to rush their other top young shortstop. Gimenez got off to a solid start in 2019, posting a .744 OPS in his first 31 games. Maybe not as good as fans might have hoped but certainly not an indication of what was about to come next.

Gimenez posted just a .250 BABIP in his next 28 games and that was made even worse as he struck out 32 times in 108 ABs. The end result was a .176 AVG and a .499 OPS that effectively sunk his season. Gimenez finished the year with a .250/.309/.387 line. Instead of being viewed as the future shortstop, especially given Rosario’s strong finish in the majors, fans started to look to Ronny Mauricio as the guy who would force the Mets’ hands as to who to play at SS in the future.

What got lost due to that terrible stretch from mid-May to the end of June was how Gimenez finished the year. In his final 219 PA, he posted a .282/.326/.446 line with a .317 BABIP. He got the strikeouts under control and put up a solid OPS without needing a monster BABIP season like we sometimes see in the minors.

Next came the Arizona Fall League and after struggling so much in that loop following the 2018 season, Gimenez led the AFL, which is where clubs send their top prospects, in both AVG (.371) and OPS (.999) and he made the All-AFL team.

Now Gimenez finds himself in the majors due to the 30-man roster wrinkle that MLB introduced as a way to combat the uncertainty of playing baseball in the time of Covid-19. And while some may have thought he would be a candidate to be removed once the rosters started to shrink, Gimenez’ strong play has essentially taken that idea off the table.

Many praised the Mets’ decision to go with a stronger defensive team last night, with Gimenez and Luis Guillorme as the double play combo and newly-acquired Billy Hamilton in center field. And the defense was quite good Wednesday. But when that narrative is being pushed, it’s easy to overlook Gimenez’ .320 AVG after 12 games.

He’s provided a little bit of everything. Yes, he looks very good defensively – regardless if he’s playing 2B, 3B or SS. Gimenez is making contact, with only a 7.7 K%, which is kind of hard to believe, given his struggles early last year in Double-A. And while the hits are falling in for him right now, the fact that MLB pitchers are not knocking the bat out of his hands is a very good thing. And on top of it all, Gimenez also has two steals.

Back on Tuesday, we ran a poll asking who should get the extra playing time created with the departure of Yoenis Cespedes. The overwhelming majority – 82% as this is being written – chose Dominic Smith. Without a doubt, Smith was a solid choice. The only problem is that Gimenez might be an even better one, given the speed and defense he brings to the table.

Smith has more of a track record in the majors and an ill-timed slump starting Friday could make stumping for a larger role for Gimenez look silly. But as of today, Gimenez looks like he belongs in the majors and the idea that he’s a starting-caliber shortstop doesn’t seem farfetched at all. Rosario’s slow start at the plate, where he’s yet to draw a walk and has just a .610 OPS, certainly makes Gimenez look better.

It’s easy to get Gimenez playing time now, with three of the starting infielders from Opening Day banged up. But it’s likely that Jeff McNeil and Rosario will be back after Thursday’s day off. That still leaves one infield slot and the DH available for playing time that wasn’t there on Opening Day. And it seems likely Gimenez will play somewhere until Cano returns. Gimenez will have another five or so games, assuming Cano’s IL time is brief, to prove he should get the extra playing time for the remainder of the year.

11 comments on “Andres Gimenez stakes claim to remain in the starting lineup

  • David Groveman

    If only Gimenez had more walk in his approach I would be 100% on board with him gaining the playing time. If he could improve his relative OBP he’d be the most natural leadoff hitter on the team and give the Mets even more options offensively than adding Smith’s quality bat.

    1. A Gimenez, 3B
    2. B. Nimmo, CF
    3. J. McNeill, LF
    4. P. Alonso, 1B
    5. M. Conforto, RF
    6. J.D. Davis/D. Smith, DH
    7. R. Cano, 2B
    8. W. Ramos, C
    9. A. Rosario, SS

    That has a lot of appeal, but only if Gimenez can allow himself to get on base with walks to utilize his speed. It is something Jose Reyes had to work through and I have hopes for him.

    • Brian Joura

      There’s no easy answer but I dislike having 3 LHB in the first three spots of the lineup. And Gimenez’ BB% has gone down each year as he’s moved up the organizational ladder.

      • David Groveman

        I didn’t think you were a lefty/righty guy.

        I had the same concern, frankly.

        • Brian Joura

          My opinion is that there’s too much of a knee-jerk reaction for making sure that a lefty hitter never faces a lefty pitcher. There were multiple people here who wanted to platoon Brandon Nimmo and Jake Marisnick, despite the fact that Nimmo had a far superior OPS versus lefties.

          But you shouldn’t invite the other manager to bring in a lefty by having three straight LHB in your lineup, especially at the top of the order where you’re unlikely to pinch hit.

  • Eraff

    Leadoff in a DH Lineup isn’t Your Father’s Lead Off Hitter….. more likely, that’s a #9 Hitter.

  • Metsense

    Gimenez stakes claim to first as the first player off the bench to replace a starting player. The Cano injury is his first opportunity to get consistent playing time.
    Going forward as the season progresses, Gimenez could substitute any starting player that needs a rest except Ramos (C) or Nimmo (CF)
    For Alonso 1B > Smith 1B, McNeill LF, Davis DH, Gimenez 3B
    For Conforto RF > Smith LF, McNeil RF, Davis Dh, Gimenez 3B
    For Smith LF > McNeil LF, Gimenez 3B
    For Davis DH > McNeil LF, Gimenez 3B
    For Cano 2B > Gimenez 2B
    For Rosario SS> Gimenez SS
    For McNeil 3B > Gimenez 3B
    There are many at bats available for Gimenez. He has made an impressive first impression.

  • TexasGusCC

    We need to temper our enthusiasm as Gimenez is still an unknown to pitchers. Let’s see how he does when teams ha e faced him a couple of times… Still, a good start is better than not!

  • Dan

    Now that Cespedes is gone and Giminez is producing I’d look to do a few things.

    DH Cano more – let him play 2b twice a week
    Get Giminez on everyday lineup at 2b, 3b, ss
    Utilize mcNeils versatitly and play him in OF more.
    When JD Davis plays the field put him at 3b; he can also DH
    Dom smith can DH and play some LF / 1b

    Mets have versatile lineup.
    I think Gimenez is a better defensive SS than Rosario but Rosario hasnt done anything to lose his job.

    • Brian Joura

      Rosario has a .610 OPS and a (-1 DRS) — what has he done to keep his job?

      • Metsense

        Rosario is an early disappointment. His best year was 2019 an 102 OPS+ and a -14 Rds/yr. Cano had a -17 Rds/yr. last year and is one of the better hitters this year. At this point it would be foolish to make Cano DH and sit Davis or Smith. I am not advocating Gimenez be to the shortstop, it’s too soon and a short sample, but if the Mets wanted an immediate upgrade in the lineup then Gimenez for Rosario is the simplest solution.

  • Edwin e Pena

    This is so simple that only the Mets would muck it up. Simply play Gimenez at 2B as much as possible. Let Cano just DH. Gimenez up the middle each day will help the overall defense a ton. Play Hamilton in the late innings in CF and move Nimmo to LF in for Dom Smith or JD Davis . Leave McNeil alone at 3B so he gets better at it. Leave Rosario, Alonso and Conforto alone. LGM. Gotta get to 35, 33 W’s worst case to get into this strange postseason which will be here before we know it.

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