Can Blanco Unseat Galvis at Short?
By Jim Tierney
Although not formally announced, it is a virtual certainty that Freddy Galvis will be only the second opening day shortstop for the Phillies in the Citizens Bank Park era.
Galvis would thus become the first Phils starting shortstop not named Jimmy Rollins, since Desi Relaford manned the position way back on Opening Day of the 2000 season.
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Is it even worth debating whether or not Galvis actually deserves such a burden? Most likely not.
This is one decision where manager Ryne Sandberg can not go wrong. His only competition, if there really is any at all, would be Andres Blanco.
Thus far in the Grapefruit League season, Galvis has received 47 at-bats across 14 games. He is hitting .277 with 3 runs scored, 4 rbi, and no extra-base hits. Blanco has received 37 at-bats across 18 games with 8 runs scored. He has 4 extra-base hits, including a home run, and has 6 rbi. Neither player has stolen any bases.
Blanco is the overall better hitter, and every Phillies fan knows that a decent hitter could be crucial to this anemic offense. He owns a .257 lifetime batting average. However, Blanco lacks the pop of Galvis’ bat, if you can refer to as “pop” what Galvis provides.
Blanco has only hit 4 home runs and driven in just 50 runs over the span of a 7-year career. Galvis has hit for just a.218 average, but has powered 12 balls out of the park, with 52 RBI’s in his brief 3-year tenure with the Phillies.
Mar 13, 2015; Clearwater, FL, USA;Galvis (13) gets out of the way of the sliding Tampa Bay Rays shortstop
(Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
What Galvis lacks in offense, he more than compensates in his normally excellent defense. He has committed only 3 errors in 360 total chances for an outstanding fielding percentage of .992. In 414 chances at short, Blanco has committed 17 errors for a .959 fielding percentage.
For now, Freddy Galvis as the Phillies starter makes sense. His glove work and tremendous arm should be of real value. In a tight contest, late in the game, Blanco offers an attractive pinch-hitting option without giving up too much defense.
All this is rather moot, however, with top prospect J. P. Crawford waiting in the wings. Crawford is hopefully just a year or two away from making The Show. Showcasing Freddy Galvis now may give the Phillies another trade chip come July. Andres Blanco would then make a more than capable double play partner for Chase Utley.
Again, this all makes for a pretty comfortable decision for Sandberg. In this rebuilding stage, giving a young, as yet unproven talent in Galvis the chance really holds no drawbacks for a manager.
Management and the fan base are all resigned to this being a year of mostly looking for youngsters to step up and prove they deserve a spot on this team in the future. With a promising prospect in Crawford working his way up, shortstop may be one position at which Sandberg needn’t overly concern himself.