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Andrés Giménez needs the game to slow down

He’s been bad across the board. What gives?

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Guardians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no sugarcoating it — Andrés Giménez is having a dreadful season. On a team that’s struggling across the board, he is one of the most glaring pieces after having a tremendous All-Star season in 2022. Fans were expecting more of the same (and maybe a bit more power please?) and they’ve gotten anything but. Complaining is easy — and fun — but it has to be wondered just what the heck is going on here.

Giménez was playing with a bit of house money last year. Clutch numbers are hard to replicate, and between his seemingly innate ability to come through in big situations — he had a 1.112 OPS in high leverage situations, 1.205 OPS with 2 outs and runners in scoring position just for two data points — and his .353 BABIP, it looked cool but felt a bit like a house of cards. He’s fast, which helps with the BABIP, but even with that, it felt squirrelly. Those marks have collapsed, as he holds a .266 BABIP this year and a .558 OPS in high-leverage situations. So he’s not as lucky, and he’s not getting the big hit. That alone hurts, but there are worrying underlying factors.

Last season, Giménez killed off-speed pitching. He was plus 11 in run value against changeups, hitting .391 with a .667 slugging percentage on them. He did well against every type of pitch, but if he saw off-speed he generally clobbered. As with everything else, that’s sunk. He’s seeing them at a slightly lower rate this year (10.3% of the time compared to 11.7% last year) but is hitting just .053 on them and slugging the same. More than that, he’s swinging and missing on an off-speed pitch 29.7% of the time — his highest rate against any pitch — whereas last year it was 26.5%.

I hate to keep dancing around the “what’s going on” of it all, but really, what’s going on?

The situation is likely manifold. First, it could be that the pace of the game is still getting to him. Last year he was facing a 19.1-second pitch tempo (the time between a pitcher releasing two pitches) according to Baseball Savant. That number placed Giménez somewhere in the middle of the pack in baseball. This year it’s dropped to 14.2 seconds, which places him 14th quickest in all of baseball. You’d think he’d have adjusted by now, but no. More than that though, I can’t help but start wondering if he’s in his own head.

It’s not like pitchers are attacking him any differently, apart from a smidge fewer changeups than a year ago.

But what’s worrying is just how he’s attacking that fastball. He’s swinging at them at about the same rate (53.3% last year, 53.7% this season) but his swing-and-miss has bounced a point and a half to 25.8% on them. He’s also swinging at them in the zone more than 5% less at 63.7%, and chasing them out of the zone 44.1% of the time, up from 38.8% last year. While he crushed changeups in 2022, any hitter makes hay on the fastball, and for Giménez, it’s more like “hey, what’s the problem?”

It’s a puzzler for sure. But for him to get just demonstrably worse across the board is astounding. It’s not even that he’s not making contact. When he does, it’s not even close to what he did a year ago.

It’s not like he was Aaron Judge up there with a host of bright red bubbles on his chart, but he made it work for himself. This year he’s simply the worst. Is it just a prolonged adjustment period? Was last year a total fluke? How does a young guy who had a great breakout season just get that much worse at even hitting a ball? Baseball being such a wildly mental game, it’s hard to draw hard conclusions aside from “he stinks now” when all the rate stats and process markers are so hideous. For him to just fall apart, you have to think it’s either in the head or his body is broken in some strange way that nobody knows about.

All you can hope for now is he figures something out because he’s a major cog in this offense. If that’s not working, this already troubling season is going to get interminable.