Phillies Freddy Galvis: Best Defensive Shortstop in the National League?
By Ethan Witte
During a Philadelphia Phillies season in which the team has shown some progress, the current shortstop remains an inconsistent question mark.
Coming into the season, shortstop Freddy Galvis was looked at as nothing more than a placeholder. Top prospect J.P. Crawford would eventually take over the position, possibly even late in this 2016 season. This meant that Galvis just had to keep the spot warm for him until Crawford was ready.
While Galvis hasn’t contributed much with the bat, his glove has been another story. Coming into Sunday’s game he was hitting for a paltry .230/.264/.363 slash line, albeit with 11 home runs.
His entire offensive game is worth only 62 wRC+, which makes Galvis the worst hitter in the National League among qualifiers. Even though not much was ever expected from Galvis’ bat, this is sub par production from the shortstop position.
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But even with those unsightly numbers, Galvis is worth 0.8 fWAR. How is it possible? The answer lies in his glove.
Galvis has been the best defensive player on the Phillies this season, posting 13.6 defensive WAR, according to Fangraphs.
His UZR/150 of 11.1 is good for ninth among all shortstops in the game. Even in the most basic sense of fielding that most fans use, how many errors committed, Galvis only has six. It’s exactly the type of glove a manager wants at the position.
Is he the Gold Glove Award winner for the National League this year? His manager certainly thinks so, saying as much in a late May interview.
"“He’s making every play there is,” manager Pete Mackanin said Saturday. “If he’s not the best shortstop in the league, I’d like to see the guy that’s playing as consistent defense as he is.”"
He certainly has produced a great resume this year. Take a look back here at some of his more spectacular and acrobatic plays of the season to this point:
While these are truly some outstanding plays, a look at the numbers would seem to suggest that Galvis comes up a bit short in the Gold Glove race.
Advanced fielding statistics are difficult to use since they generally seem to stabilize after multiple seasons of use instead of just a single season. Nevertheless, it’s what we have now to help determine the best of the best.
Looking at defensive WAR among shortstops, Galvis’ 13.6 tally still puts him well behind names like Brandon Crawford, Corey Seager and Zack Cozart.
Looking at Inside Edge’s view of how well players get to certain plays, Galvis is pretty much middle of the pack at getting to plays he should reach.
This is before we even get into a discussion that Gold Glove voting is essentially a popularity contest. Even with the new rules put into place, there is often many an eyebrow raised when the results are given out. This year will more than likely be not much different.
Based on most the objective evidence that is available, Galvis will probably not win the award. When results are announced, look for someone like Crawford or, more likely, Seager to be the one hoisting the trophy during awards season.
However, while Galvis continues to draw criticism from some in the fan base, much of it warranted due to inconsistency, it remains a fact that he plays a strong defensive shortstop for the Phillies.