Freddy Galvis: the Answer as Phillies’ Shortstop?


Is Freddy Galvis a good 2015 answer at SS for Phils?

(Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

With the finalization of the trade that sends long time Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, the focus for the team now shifts to the obvious: who will play shortstop for the team in 2015? We certainly know that Freddy Galvis will be given the first crack at seizing the opportunity:

While a quick glance at the Phillies’ depth chart shows that Galvis is the de facto shortstop, this quote about whether Galvis has “earned it” jumped out at me. Has Galvis earned it?

In these days of greater emphasis being placed on defense, Galvis would, at first blush, be an attractice piece as a shortstop. Signed out of Venezuela in 2006, he came up through the minor leagues with the reputation as being a defensive whiz. Is that reputation earned?

Looking at the numbers, it might be. In 2,739 chances as a minor league shortstop, Galvis committed 72 errors, compiling a .974 fielding percentage. That number is quite high for a shortstop, who by the nature of the position, more often than not get the most fielding chances in the infield.

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Without the ability to scrutinize each play in the minors, going off stats alone is a dangerous game. Scouts play an important role in evaluating a player’s defense in the minors, and Galvis received mostly universal praise.

Looking at his major league record, it’s been tough to gauge Galvis’ defense. The sample size of him playing shortstop is incredibly small. In 303 1/3 innings, Galvis has only 1 error in 171 chances, but has been credited with -4 DRS (for comparison, Rollins, over his career in Philadelphia, has 48 DRS).

He has made the routine plays (98% of them, according to Inside Edge), so the reputation of Galvis being an above average glove would seem to be correct. The problem is that, as much as Ryne Sandberg might want to, he can’t hide Galvis’ bat.

At the plate is where Galvis has shown an almost stunning lack of competence. He was never much of a hitter in the minors (lifetime .246/.291/.334 in 2,631 PA in the minors), but called upon to hit against major league arms, “struggle” would be  an understatement.

His .218/.259/.362 slash line in 550 PA leaves much to be desired. Advanced stats aren’t kind either, where he sits at a 68 wRC+, 69 OPS+ and .271 wOBA – numbers which are hilariously bad.

However, it’s been known for his entire career that Galvis wouldn’t hit much, so his glove had to be quite good for him to have any value at all. Luckily, based on his minor league past and what we’ve seen in the majors, Galvis can flash the leather.

So, what can we expect from Galvis over the course of a full season? Tough to say. The sample size in the majors is too small to glean anything meaningful. He has given hints that he will be a decent glove man while being pretty inept with the stick.

Many major league scouts think Galvis is better suited to being a utility player, playing all over the place to give other players a day off. He has been used in that role before, logging innings at 2B, SS, 3B, and LF. With Rollins starting, and almost never needing time off because of injury, fans haven’t been given a good look at Galvis as the everyday man.

With Jimmy Rollins starting and healthy, Galvis has never started at SS for any length of time.

(Photo Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

There are even questions about Galvis’ ability to remain healthy. He has spent time in the minors and majors on the DL for various injuries (spine fracture, finger fracture, MRSA infection), so he will have that question to answer as well.

Luckily for Galvis, the Phillies don’t project to be a contending team this year. Their every day lineup will feature only 3 players who could produce wOBA numbers anywhere near league-average. With the looming possibility that ace Cole Hamels might be traded soon, the pitching staff doesn’t look to be very intimidating to opposing lineups either.

Putting Galvis out there everyday at shortstop, the Phillies really have nothing to lose. His past would suggest that his suddenly gaining the ability to hit effectively is almost nill.

However, the potential runs he could save defensively may be a very valuable piece. It would certainly be a better option than wasting dollars (and roster spots) on a Rafael Furcal or Asdrubel Cabrera….that is, unless they are looking to flip them at the trade deadline.

Overall, I think a fair prediction for Galvis might be this: a .240/.290/.390 slash line with somewhere in the neighborhood of 0-7 DRS in the field. These numbers aren’t great, but they can at least hold the fort down at the position until top prospect J.P. Crawford is ready. With the Phillies’ season likely going nowhere anyway, there really isn’t anything to lose.