2023 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Player Spotlight: Andres Gimenez is Top Five at His Position
Colby Conway breaks down Cleveland Guardians' second baseman Andres Gimenez and his fantasy baseball expectations for the 2023 MLB season.
Cleveland Guardians’ second baseman Andres Gimenez was a fantasy baseball breakout player in 2022, as he was one of just 13 players to have hit at least 15 home runs and steal 20 bases last year. After hitting just .218 in 2021, he rode a .353 BABIP to a .297 average and .371 OBP. Many fantasy baseball preseason projections are saying that Gimenez will experience a drop in batting average and OBP in 2023, and he routinely finds himself amongst the top five or six second baseman in fantasy baseball rankings. Is Gimenez in store for regression in 2023, setting him up to be a dreaded fantasy baseball bust, or will he continue his high-level of play, and ascend into fantasy stardom?
Yes, he rode a .353 BABIP to an inflated average, and his .257 xBA from last year indicates that some regression could be in store. However, don’t be so quick to assume that Gimenez is going to be a .260 hitter in 2023. Here are some other things to consider:
- Barrel rate jumped to 6.2% (up three percent from 2020 and 2021)
- Hard hit rate jumped to a more respectable 37.6 percent
- Traded ground balls for line drives
- Compared to 2021, his contact, zone contact, swinging strike, and strikeout rates all improved
It wasn’t all luck or good fortune that led to his big jump in the batting average department. Was there some? Sure, including the fact that he hit .333 on ground balls last season, which was the eighth-highest in baseball last season, and nearly 100 points above the mark across all of Major League Baseball (.235). However, it wasn’t all based on just luck. He made some great improvements, and continued advancements from 2022, which helped fuel his 2023 success.
To offset any major regression in 2023, he’ll need to improve upon staying in the zone, as even last year’s 40.8 percent O-Swing rate is simply too high. Fortunately, between the two “halves” of the season, we saw positive marks in terms of his walk and strikeout rates.
So, what happened? There wasn’t any substantial decrease in his chase rate, but he was missing when chasing less often, especially against non-fastballs:
We can see it here, too, in that as the season went on, the overall trendline indicated fewer swings out of the zone, but more contact, leading to fewer strikeouts.
In fact, despite having a poor 2021 season, he improved throughout the year across the board, which spearheaded the massive growth he displayed in 2023. However, outside of the batting average, my biggest concern is the legitimacy of his power. Despite the improvements in some of his batted ball metrics, he still hits a few too many ground balls, and last year’s 29th percentile average exit velocity and 33rd percentile barrel rate isn’t anything to make someone jump for joy. He enjoyed a nice bump in his HR/FB rate, but it’s hard to ignore last year’s .400 xSLG.
For a frame of reference, his actual SLG last year was .466. His .466 SLG matched Trea Turner last season, but his xSLG of .400 is more comparable to Tommy Edman and Steven Kwan. When you think of Edman and Kwan, what comes to mind? High average and contact guys, but middling power.
So, rather than getting caught up in the hullabaloo about Gimenez’s inevitable batting average regression, let’s talk about the legitimate concern with his power numbers. He just hit 17 home runs last season, but can he surpass 20? There were 63 players last year that had at least 400 plate appearances with a ground ball rate north of 46 percent. Only 11 players hit 20 or more home runs. Eleven. Unless he trades some ground balls for fly balls, it’s going to be tough for him to get far past 20 round trippers in 2023. However, to his credit, over the final 56 games of the year, he did hit five home runs with 10 doubles, so the added power was nice.
There will be some regression in his batting average, but he won’t hit lower than .265 this year, and that is at the absolute low end. His ceiling easily places him in the 20/20 club, but there will need to be some changes with his batted ball profile to push him above that threshold. Gimenez should still most definitely be inside the top five second baseman drafted at the position, because he’s young, still growing, and has a lot to like about his game. Also, he shouldn’t spend half the year hitting in the bottom half of the lineup, so added at-bats will help push up his fantasy value.