Eloy Jiménez wastes no time astounding, confounding

Jul 27, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Chicago White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez (74) celebrates running the bases after hitting a three run home run in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Back in January, a couple months before he injured himself with one of his awkward efforts in left field, we talked about how Eloy Jiménez was physically capable of making difficult plays, but not with any kind of regularity. In fact, two similar line drives could result in two very different snapshots of competency.

One of the positive examples occurred in Kauffman Stadium on Sept. 3, 2020. Jiménez raced back and made a leaping catch on the warning track to rob Whit Merrifield of extra bases. Kansas City announcer Ryan Lefebvre praised Jiménez in a backhanded fashion, saying, “Jiménez, who is not known for his defense, makes a nice play.”

Perhaps everything’s just more clear to Jiménez in Kansas City, or maybe something about Dylan Cease inspires him. However it unfolded on Tuesday night, he made not one, not two, but three plays that required start-to-finish execution. Carlos Santana tested him as soon as he could with a slicing liner in the first inning. Jiménez flagged it down.

An inning later, the Royals tested Jiménez’s throwing abilities. I’m guessing Michael A. Taylor gets the stop sign for any other left fielder playing this shallow, but the scouting report says Jiménez’s arm is more musket than rifle — slow to load and little precision when firing — so Vance Wilson waved him home. Jiménez foiled the move, putting the throw where it needed to be for how far Taylor was from the plate.

And then Jiménez retired Taylor with his glove by picking a sinking liner off the turf, which froze the two baserunners and prevented more damage in the fourth inning.

The Kansas City booth’s initial response praised Royal runners for the correct reaction to an uncertain catch, as third base umpire Kerwin Danley needed a couple of seconds to deliver an “out” signal. But analyst Rex Hudler circled back to Jiménez saying, “Boy, I’ll tell ya, he’s having a game tonight.”

And that was before Jiménez actually decided the game with a no-doubt three-run homer off Kyle Zimmer in the eighth inning.

There aren’t many situations where a slugger with Jiménez’s reputation is intentionally chosen as the easier mark, so it has to be so incredibly satisfying to immediately, thunderously reveal the flaw in the plan.

To their credit, Lefebvre and Hudler understood the stakes of the decision, especially when Jiménez fouled a hittable first-pitch fastball back. Their indigestion gave the moment appropriate staging.

And while the KC booth can be notoriously uptight when it comes to slow home run trots and other forms of on-field expression — at least when the other team is doing it — Lefebvre and Hudler had to admit that Jiménez earned the right to soak in the moment. After all, the Royals decided he was the one to pick on.

This was supposed to be the whole idea. Flank Abreu with Jiménez, Yoán Moncada, Yasmani Grandal and an evolving Luis Robert, and the heart of the lineup was designed to present a series of unenviable choices. Jiménez had to wait 100 games to capitalize on mistakes, and he looked like he couldn’t wait. Four at-bats into the 101st game, he let the situation come to him.

I’d imagine that Jiménez will need multiple weeks before he can rampage. Zimmer threw him two cookies, after all. Then again, I didn’t imagine Jiménez would have the defensive game of his life on his first try of the 2021 regular season. Maybe seeing a better option in left field will force him to raise his game. Maybe he’s in for a repeat of 2020 all over again — 60 games of Silver Slugger excellence at the plate, and enough moments in the field that make it hard to resign him to DH in what should be his physical prime, even if the metrics speak for themselves.

This is the fun part about getting Jiménez back with an 8½ game lead, much like it’s a lot more pleasant to shop for a car when the one you own is in perfect working order. Should he resume pressing at the plate, or should he resume his indecisiveness in left field, the White Sox have resources and leverage to reset the terms. If by some miracle it’s this smooth from start to finish, then congratulations. Enjoy the drive.

(Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

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asinwreck

Jim deserves an increase in pay for listening to Rex Hudler.

Red_Hair_White_Sox

I agree, he should speak to his boss.

knoxfire30

Marte traded to the A’s …. So the A’s have added Marte, the Rays added Cruz, and the Astros added Gravemen….

Quite the arms race in the AL.

texag10

For Luzardo to boot. I know he hasn’t reached his pedigree yet but if that was the cost, I understand why he’s not in Chicago (among other reasons).

knoxfire30

The marlins picking up 4 mil of martes salary got them a better prospect then would of originally been though of as fair compensation.

Pretty confident the sox will add a bullpen arm and 2nd base upgrade thsts the minimum for them

calcetinesblancos

With all the ways their roster could (might have to) change after this year, the A’s have every incentive to go for it right now. Sucks to give up young controllable pitchers, but Luzardo has been pretty meh recently, so they probably figured it was worth the gamble that he doesn’t pan out.

jhomeslice

I know there are a few days left but it’s starting to feel more and more like Hahn might not deliver. I think is even more important now since 3 of their potential opponents got better. A’s added Chafin also.

If the Sox don’t add at least one bullpen piece, I just don’t see a deep October run, great as it is to have Eloy back. They will have a chance in any series, but there is no reason at all they should be favored vs the Astros or Rays. Not with this bullpen. Sox can’t sit on their hands and hope for the best. I sure hope that isn’t what they wind up doing.

jose robcada

Rumor is they are close on deal for tepera

jhomeslice

I hope so. Astros getting two good relievers already is not what I hoped to see so far. Gotta keep faith in Hahn, just hope he finds a couple reasonable deals.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Source?

No real source. Tepera and the Sox are just swirling around Twitter with more staying power than usual. Could be real, could be a dead end

Qubort

Astros added Yimi Garica now too. I hope Hahn pulls a rabbit out of his hat before the deadline. If the Sox don’t go all in with how the rotation has been this year, with a 76 year old manager, then when? They’re good enough to win….just give them a little extra boost.

polishwith

Great fielding aside, I still don’t think Eloy in left is a great decision, but it would be so much more palatable if center and right were shored up. I hope we are done with the Brian Goodwin Experiment. He had some good songs on the first album, but his most recent LPs have been crap. There’s no reason for anyone but Engel to play center until Robert returns. Stick Goodwin in right if you must, but Eloy, Goodwin & Vaughn is not sustainable.

calcetinesblancos

Well where would you prefer Eloy go? You want a 24 year old with decent athleticism to only DH?

polishwith

Definitely DH. He’s a ticking time bomb in the field. Even if you suck up the defensive penalty, he’s just to likely to injure himself.

calcetinesblancos

I don’t agree.

polishwith

Then you must think Eloy is a better fielder than Vaughn. And I disagree with that.

As Cirensica

I think Eloy is a passable outfielder. It is not his outfield skill what I am worrying about. It’s his decision making process as to how he thinks a ball should be pursued/gloved/fielded.

Last edited 2 years ago by As Cirensica
polishwith

Passable is a good word. In time he could improve, but with the current roster, and at this point in the season, the only logical reason that I can see is to keep him happy so his bat doesn’t suffer. At the very least, keep Engel in center so he has less opportunity to do damage.

jhomeslice

Agree, his defense is not a problem. Just keep he dude healthy and hope another injury is avoidable.

I will say this, if he gets hurt again, then it’s time to say enough is enough. He’s had way too many DL trips in his young career, that absolutely needs to change. Big Papi started at DH at a pretty young age, so I don’t buy that he will not be able to hit if that’s where he winds up.

calcetinesblancos

Why must I think that? Also, what does that have to do with anything?

calcetinesblancos

Good for Eloy. I personally think making him a full-time DH would be incredibly stupid.

polishwith

Why is it incredibly stupid?

As Cirensica

We just lost 4 months of production from Eloy because he is a menace to himself while patrolling the outfield. I wouldn’t call it stupid to mitigate the risk of that happening again.

calcetinesblancos

Because a player with zero versatility has limited value, as we’ve already seen this season.

burning-phoneix

I agree. In fact, instead of a universal DH, I support abolishing the DH in every league.

GrinnellSteve

I missed the beginning of last night’s game. How good a play was it for Eloy to advance on a foul popup? Was Santana running down the right field line to make an over-the-shoulder catch? Was it heads up? Risky and stupid? Something any player would have done?

madridsox

It was a smart play. Santana had his back towards the field and his momentum was carrying him away from the throw. It wasn’t close.

Infield Grass

Santana was running down an over-the-shoulder catch and had to reach for it on the run. Still not something you necessarily expect someone like Eloy to do, but it was a reasonable risk by him. Sheets certainly wasn’t expecting Eloy to do it because he didn’t tag 1st so Sheets missed out on a chance get to 2nd when the throw was made to 3rd.

GrinnellSteve

Thank you to you both. In all the excitement about Eloy’s dramatic homer, great range, and rifle arm, his speed and baserunning smarts were overlooked.

Joliet Orange Sox

Escobar to the Brewers.

Foulkelore

Shoot, I really thought the Sox were still going to get him, and his power would have been nice to add to the lineup.

md03

I thought he would be an easier get but how would we feel if we got Story? He’s having a down year so just worried that Escobar would actually outperform him from here on out.

dwjm3

I really want Story but I’ll settle for the guy in Detroit

Foulkelore

I don’t know about Story. It sounds great when I think about what he usually is, but he’s having such a bad year, and it’s gotten worse lately (.176/.241/.338 and 41 wRC+ in July).

Last edited 2 years ago by Foulkelore
dwjm3

He just feels like a guy that needs a change of scenery. It has to be a bit soul crushing playing for the Rockies. He would see more hitable pitches in our lineup.

Foulkelore

Those are fair points. Things started poorly for them right away with trading away Arenado. I would be intrigued, and it wouldn’t upset me. It would have the potential to be a great move if he could revert at all to what he normally is.

md03

Didn’t he have some injury issues this year and just had one recently? This year seems like everything is going right but we’ve seen some big names fall flat here before. Regardless I’d take anyone to upgrade the holes at 2b and RP.

Joliet Orange Sox

Gallo to the Yankees! Fasten your seat belts till Friday afternoon.

shaggy65

No matter how questionable his defense, I just don’t think Eloy would be happy (and therefore not as productive) at DH. He’s a big kid who wants to go out and play. Not everyone can handle the DH role.

On the other hand, Sheets is looking pretty comfortable there so far. Given our need for LH pop, I hope that turns out to be a long-term solution. Then if Vaughn adapts as well to RF as he did to LF that solves a lot of problems.