To my mind, the MVP of the 2022 Cleveland Guardians season was Andrés Giménez.
I’m in the minority, because, as you can tell from his ranking in the MVP list, even my fellow writers on Covering the Corner think he was second best. But can you imagine what this team might have been without him?
Sure, you could say the same thing about José Ramírez. I don’t think it’ll spoil anything in his article (because it’s something we all already know) to say that the ‘22 season wouldn’t have been possible in the first place without José taking an owner-friendly deal to stay in Cleveland. But even if Cleveland had done nothing, Ramírez could likely have produced a 6-win season for the team this year. Giménez posting a 6-win season, though? That was both surprising and necessary for what Cleveland accomplished.
Prior to the season, Giménez was predicted to be a good player. Despite his poor showing in 2021 (210 PA, .218/.282/.351, 74 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR), there was still plenty to be optimistic about in his profile. Prior to being traded, he had accumulated 1.2 fWAR in 132 PA, hitting slightly above average with a 105 wRC+. Giménez looked like he might be a solid piece within the Guardians’ rebuilding years, something a lot like the guy he came to Cleveland with: Amed Rosario. ZiPS, in fact, pegged him as the team’s second-best player, right in the Rosario zone, with a projected 2.5 fWAR.
Instead, Giménez exploded into another version of Ramírez and tore up the script of any rebuilding year.
Though his performance ebbed and flowed like every player’s, one notable thing about Giménez’s splits is that he had no calendar month in 2022 with a wRC+ lower than 114. I suppose such a feat is inevitable when you finish the season 40% better than league average, but it’s not something to which others on the team can lay claim. Ramírez’s September/October had a wRC+ of 98, Steven Kwan’s May had a wRC+ of 55, Rosario was only above league average in wRC+ for two months (despite finishing the year with a 103 wRC+), and so on. Consistency — and consistent excellence — was the name of the game for Giménez in 2022.
Of course, it wasn’t just Cleveland where his excellence shone. Among all qualified second basemen, Giménez was second in fWAR, slugging percentage, UZR, and outs above average; third in wRC+ and wOBA; fourth in batting average, on-base percentage, stolen bases, and xwOBA; and fifth in home runs and RBI.
Giménez got his flowers in season, in the form of an All-Star nod, and after the season, with a well-deserved Gold Glove Award, but somehow he still felt a little slept on. Perhaps this is mission creep of the Cleveland-versus-the-world narrative that I’ve been sold a million times, but I still think Giménez might be underrated.
To wit, consider that he actually got better at two very important aspects of the game, particularly in a Cleveland-specific context: Over the course of the season, Giménez’s strikeout rate fell and his walk rate increased. His first-half strikeout rate was 21.5%, which is approximately that of Bobby Witt Jr., who had a Statcast percentile ranking of 49th. His second-half strikeout rate, however, was 18.7%, which is that of Xander Bogaerts, who has a Statcast percentile rank of 65th. Likewise, Giménez’s first-half walk rate was 4.9%, the same as Alec Bohm, who had a Statcast percentile ranking of 11th. His second-half walk rate was 7.3%, the same as Marcus Semien, who had a Statcast percentile ranking of 39. These small changes, a 2.8% decrease in strikeout rate and 2.4% increase in walk rate, add up to major differences in performance.
Giménez may not be our MVP, this year at least, but there’s no question about the value he brought the Guardians in 2022. With both his talent and his ability to improve — year over year and within the same season — he’s given fans great reason to be excited about his future. Who knows, maybe the manager will even start hitting him higher up in the batting order.
Andrés Giménez’s 2022 Stats
Total MVP points: 68
First-place MVP votes: 2
Second-place MVP votes: 3
Third-place MVP votes: 2
We’re reviewing (almost) all the Guardians players from 2022 now through November, starting with the top-10 MVPs as voted on by eight Covering the Corner staff members. Players were awarded points based on their one through 10 individual rankings and were ranked as such. You can find all the Year in Review posts here.