Phillies’ shortstop Freddy Galvis has responded to his first opportunity at full-time play by having the best start to a season of his career. Now the question becomes, can he continue on with the way that he has been hitting the ball through April?
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Freddy is not new to opening the season in a starting spot; he did so in 2012 when Chase Utley was out with a knee injury, and again in 2013 while Jimmy Rollins was injured. But in replacing the traded Rollins, this is the first time that he has a starting job, assured that it is his for the entire season.
The Venezuelan-born shortstop has been red hot to start 2015. His .361/.409/.459 slash line gives him team-leading stats in each of those offensive categories among all Phillies players with more than 5 at-bats.
On Sunday against the Braves, Galvis had another three-hit game, his fourth of the season, second in MLB behind Dee Gordon of the Marlins. Over the full series against Atlanta, Galvis went 6-for-10, scoring 3 of the Phils’ 8 runs over the three games.
“When you have the opportunity to play everyday, if you go 0 for 4 one day, you have the opportunity to go out there the next day and do something, it gives me a lot of confidence and I feel really good” ~ Galvis
Before this season, Galvis had a .218 career batting average in MLB, certainly nothing to write home about. However, with Rollins gone, he was able to focus his Spring Training on getting back to basics, knowing that a starting spot was his come the start of the season.
Manager Ryne Sandberg is a big part of this; he has helped Galvis change his approach and relieve the pressure of filling big shoes in Rollins’ absence.
“He’s had a completely different mindset from Day 1 in spring training,” Sandberg said. “It was explained to him what his job is as an offensive player on the team. Have a good line drive, ground ball stroke, and stay with that. He occasionally pops one out of the ballpark, but he’s staying with his game plan. He’s choked up on the bat. He’s putting it all together. He’s very steady.”
It’s a fresh approach for Freddy, who after Sunday’s series finale against the Braves was eager to stress the importance of consistent at-bats.
“When you have the opportunity to play everyday, if you go 0 for 4 one day you have the opportunity to go out there the next day and do something,” Galvis said in an interview with CSN Philly. “It gives me a lot of confidence and I feel really good.”
It has clearly worked wonders, with Freddy hitting .471 in his last six games. For the season, his .361 average is 5th in the National League out of players with more than 50 at-bats. His 22 hits lead the Phillies, and his 8 rbi are 2nd on the club only to 3-4 hole hitters Utley and Ryan Howard.
But Galvis doesn’t just contribute with the bat. He has a solid defensive skill set that has allowed him to make some outstanding and, at times, ridiculous plays in the infield.
Galvis will be the Phils shortstop bridge from JRoll to the next generation
(Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)
In Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Braves, he made a sharp dive to his left to stop a hard-hit ball from Nick Markakis reaching the outfield, rolled, and fired to get Markakis at 1st base, all in one motion, in a play that clearly caused him some pain. Galvis has shown willingness to put his body on the line, an admirable attribute for a defensive player.
Despite making two errors this year, he has a .974 fielding percentage, a number he would actually like to improve upon. In 180 games as a Phillie, most in the infield, he has made just seven errors in addition to a number of remarkable diving grabs and leaps to save runs.
On Friday, having made a heads-up play to cover third base, Galvis noted how crucial defence is, especially when the team is struggling to produce offensively. “Right now we’re not scoring too many runs,” Galvis said. “We have to play defense if we want to win games.”
It has been an impressive year for Galvis so far, and long may it continue. Thanks to the tremendous start, at least to this stage, the Phillies haven’t missed Rollins one bit as far as play on the field goes. Now the question will become, can he continue this level of play on through the season?