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.
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Is it even worth debating whether or not Galvis actually deserves such a burden? Most likely not.
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.