Freddy Galvis and Andrelton Simmons

I tweeted this recently about Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons when the Braves were in town to play the Phillies:

The 24-year-old is enjoying his first full season in the Majors and has already put himself in great company with his defensive showing. David Schoenfield went over this recently on the Sweet Spot blog:

The crux is that Simmons is having one of the greatest defensive seasons of all time, whether you go by the metrics, or by the eye test. Maybe his reputation isn’t quite at Ozzie-level yet, which is understandable because it takes time to build a reputation, and Simmons is in his second season.

At ESPN, we like to use Baseball Info Solutions’ Defensive Runs Saved metric, which BIS has tracked with video review since 2003. According to DRS, here are the best defensive seasons since 2003:

1. Andrelton Simmons, Braves, 2013: plus-37 runs
2. Brett Gardner, Yankees, 2010: plus-35
3. Adam Everett, Astros, 2006: plus-34 

[...]

Since that article was posted three weeks ago, Simmons added two more runs and now sits at +39.

Despite the now-15 homers, Simmons is still a below-average hitter, sitting with a .250/.297/.392 line and a .302 weighted on-base average. When one adjusts for position, though, and he ranks at about the league average.

The Phillies have a similarly light-hitting, defensively-proficient player of their own in Freddy Galvis. Last night, Galvis hit his second home run in six games since being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, giving him six on the season, double last year’s output in slightly fewer trips to the plate. The most he had ever hit in one season was eight in 2011 between Double-A Reading and Triple-A.

Galvis and Simmons are similar in a lot of ways. Both stand within two inches of six feet tall and both are listed at 170 pounds. Both are in their mid-20′s. Both have made offensive progress this year. Both walk around the same rate (which isn’t much). Both have shown more or less the same amount of power in their careers thus far. Both have displayed below-average contact abilities, leading to a BABIP in the .260 area. Both have great defensive prowess.

Where they differ: Galvis is a switch hitter, strikes out a lot more, isn’t quite as good defensively (while still being above-average overall), and is more versatile with experience, even playing the outfield at times this season.

I would mention Manny Machado here as well, as there are some similarities, but he is about two and a half years younger so his development has been significantly faster.

While it isn’t the most likely scenario that Galvis finds a way to cut down on his strikeouts, improve his quality of contact, maintain his newfound power, and continue to improve defensively, Simmons has shown that it isn’t out of the question. The Phillies are thinking about their future at shortstop a bit earlier than they expected as Jimmy Rollins has been a disappointment. Prospects Roman Quinn and J.P. Crawford are still three years away at minimum. In the event Rollins is simply done being anything better than a replacement-level shortstop, the Phillies shouldn’t be afraid to plug in Galvis and see what happens when he is allowed to play on a full-time basis. With Cody Asche at third and Chase Utley at second, along with Galvis, the Phillies could once again have one of the better infield defenses in the league.

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20 comments

  1. bubba0101

    September 12, 2013 09:45 AM

    Unfortunately, the way the phillies operate is to be the dead horse. Rollins will be at short til his contract is up and Howard will be at first til his is up. Our only hope is that Sandberg is able to trump this and actually set something into place which will help us win baseball games such as the things that have been written on this site recently, i.e. a platoon at first and Galvis at short.

  2. Josh G

    September 12, 2013 12:05 PM

    Fangraphs has actually put alot out about Simmons and his defense. The most recent one being www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-replacement-level-andrelton-simmons/

    I watch way more of Galvis than of Simmons, and there isn’t enough major league data to really say how good Galvis has been defensively. To my eye test it looks that Galvis is in the same “outstanding” defense tier.

  3. Eric Longenhagen

    September 12, 2013 01:09 PM

    Freddy: 70 defense, 70 arm

    Andrelton: 80 Defense, 80 arm

  4. Larry

    September 12, 2013 02:14 PM

    I have a fear that Jimmy will hit in the top of the order again in 2014. You are giving more at bats to a player with a low OBP and OPS than mostly every other player on the team. It doesn’t make much sense. Insert Freddy Galvis who would be placed as the 7th or 8 hole hitter and problem solved. This guy is amazing on the field defensively and plays good fundamental baseball, which is very important IMO

  5. Bill Baer

    September 12, 2013 02:28 PM

    To explain Eric’s numbers a little further, 80 is the maximum. Very few players ever get 80′s at any point in their careers. Few can even be projected to attain an 80. That’s how good Simmons is defensively. Galvis is great but just not on that level. Here’s hoping Simmons avoids the dreaded injury bug.

    (It’s a 20/80 scale because it’s based on standard deviations. Average is 50. One standard deviation is 40/60. Two is 30/70. Three is 20/80.)

  6. bubba0101

    September 12, 2013 02:57 PM

    Agreed Larry. Hitting Jimmy in the 6/7 hole would use him properly. What is Jrols defense and arm by the way? Anyone know?

  7. Eric Longenhagen

    September 12, 2013 03:04 PM

    Sixes for me now. Father time is undefeated.

  8. Larry

    September 12, 2013 04:18 PM

    “Father time is undefeated.”

    He lost to Peyton Manning lol

  9. Bill Baer

    September 12, 2013 04:41 PM

    I don’t expect to ever say this again, but that is a legitimately good comment, Larry. And I don’t even like or follow football hand-egg.

  10. bubba0101

    September 12, 2013 05:22 PM

    What was Jimmy at his prime? 70/70?

  11. Larry

    September 12, 2013 05:49 PM

    lol @ Bill, they are all good comments. You may not like comments like Cliff Lee is the real ace of the team. If you disagree with me on things, I’m always up for a debate.

    BTW, how can you not love football? You should watch the Eagles next game. Chip kelly’s offense is very entertaining. I was glued to my seat in that 1st quarter. It was crazy, but good crazy.

  12. bubba0101

    September 12, 2013 08:22 PM

    Thanks

  13. Dan K.

    September 12, 2013 08:53 PM

    Larry, just to be clear, a person can make a good comment even if others disagree with it. The general rules of good comments are:

    1) Make a strong point/bring something new to the table.
    2) Back up your claim with relevant, unbiased information/statistics.
    3) Be respectful and be open to other opinions/options (this is listed as 3, but is probably the most important).

    It’s a plus to be funny.

  14. Larry

    September 12, 2013 09:31 PM

    @Dan K

    “3) Be respectful and be open to other opinions/options (this is listed as 3, but is probably the most important).”

    Thanks for being the comment police, but I want you to follow your own rules. This is what you said to me last month:

    “UZR, like all defensive stats, is unreliable in a single season. Also, yes, a CF playing RF will often put up video game numbers. You shouldn’t be comparing Shane in RF to Ben in CF, you should compare CF to CF or RF to RF. Go look at Revere’s UZR in RF: 17.5 in 761.2 innings. Seems oddly familiar to Shane’s 13.7 in 619.1 innings this year, don’t you think?”

    Was this comment respectful? You scolded me for using UZR in just 1 season. Then in the same paragraph you used UZR in a one season comparison yourself.

    Don’t you think that is ridiculous and hypocritical?

    As a rebuttal to your analysis of Shane’s video game stats at rightfield: Buster Olney said:

    “Right field in Fenway Park might be the most difficult outfield position in baseball”

    Now I’ll give you a second chance to be respectful and I won’t hold you to that ridiculous paragraph you wrote to me. Respect is not easily given, it’s earned. If you want to recant your hypocritical UZR statement, that’s fine. If you want to challenge Buster Olney’s statement I would be willing to read it….But please do it in a respectful manner. Sound fair?

  15. Dan K.

    September 13, 2013 12:37 AM

    Slow down, Larry. You’re making a whole lot of assumption there.

    Firstly, I never said you didn’t (or weren’t) following those rules. And they, obviously, aren’t ironclad as the end-all be-all for “good” comments. It’s just a good general set of rules to follow. My point was that, generally, following those rules will lead to a good post. One that most people, even those who disagree with you, can appreciate.

    Secondly, you seem to be taking a counter-argument as a personal attack. This is not the case. Nothing you quoted had any hint of disrespect. I was simply using statistics to back an argument I made (that it is unfair to compare CF defense to RF defense as an apples-to-apples comparison). If you had quoted another part of what I wrote in that comment, I could see why you would take offense to it. But you need to remember, you were being extremely disrespectful to another poster and I was trying to “have his back” as it were. However, I will apologize for anything you took as a personal attack, even though I genuinely did not mean it that way. But also realize someone else’s lack of discretion is not an excuse to add fuel to the fire. Ideally we all need to treat each other with respect, regardless of our own opinions. Also, I will not apologize for correcting someone when they are misinterpreting or otherwise misunderstanding a statistic. We should all be willing to learn, especially from mistakes.

    Thirdly, I didn’t scold you. I pointed out a mistake. CF and RF are not the same position. Comparing them apples-to-apples is almost like comparing SS to 1B in the same way. I think we both know that SS is VASTLY more difficult than 1B. If you put an average SS at 1B, their UZR at 1B would likely be godly. That doesn’t mean that would translate directly to SS. It just means they are extremely capable at 1B. Being extremely good at a less demanding position doesn’t make you extremely good at a more demanding one.

    And as for using UZR in a one season sample, I already told you. I was using your own parameters. That doesn’t mean Ben Revere is as good as those numbers suggest. It just means that he is perfectly capable of putting up the same numbers you cite for Victorino in RF over the course of a year.

    Finally, the first thing I would point out is that Olney explicitly says “might be.” It’s pure conjecture. And even so, you’re forgetting something extremely important: “UZR is park-adjusted, meaning it adjusts for the fact that fielders have to deal with odd quirks in certain ballparks” (take directly from here www.fangraphs.com/library/defense/uzr/). It doesn’t matter if Victorino is putting up a big UZR in Fenway; the stat accounts for where he is. It’s also worth noting that UZR is cumulative stat. It keeps going up (or down) as the player spends more time at the position, so for player comparisons between players with different time spent at the position UZR/150 should be used. For what it’s worth, Revere has a 27.9 career UZR/150 in RF (in a small sample) compared to Vic’s 26.6 (in a much better sample). So I still disagree with your premise.

  16. Dennis S.

    September 13, 2013 09:07 AM

    The debate on whether or not something is a good comment is pure opinion.
    The fact of the matter is, arguments can be mad for and against the defense of Galvis compared to the defense of Rollins. The offense IMO is a wash.
    I truly believe that Galvis should be used for the rest of the year as the SS. Rollins’ age has caught up to him and his productivity has declined. I like what we have done thus far with plugging in Asche at 3B and I thought extending Utley made sense going forward. The next couple years are going to determine the route that the Phillies will take but I believe we are in for some changes. With Ryan at the helm, you can already see the players buying into his philosophy of hustle baseball. I am encouraged at what I see even if the talent is not there. Baseball should be played a certain way and Philadelphia is starting to finally get that.
    Our farm in baron of any immediate talent that is going to benefit this ball club for the next couple years. So unless we get some studs in the upcoming draft, it will be a good amount of time before we see the Phils in the playoffs.
    Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay will be an after thought by the time we start consistently winning again. As great of a pitcher as they are, it’s a shame we couldn’t have won more.
    The only saving grace is that Ryan’s, Jimmy’s and Halladay’s contracts will be gone soon and we will be able to bring in talent that should help in the rebuilding process.

    Finally, the Eagles are fun to watch. With all this hoopla about the offense, I think it’s the defense that will be the biggest surprise.
    They have a chance to win the division but that’s why they play the games. It will be entertaining to watch at the very least.

  17. Ryan

    September 13, 2013 11:53 AM

    Rollins should be the 8 hole hitter just like Galvis. Charlie was just too stubborn to put him there out of respect. I mean, seriously, how do you bat someone with a .316 obp and a .340 slugging % anywhere other than 8th and have a decent lineup?

    Larry, you do get out of hand sometimes. Please don’t take rebuttals of your comments personally. However, your comment earlier in this thread, per Bill, was a really good. More of this type of comment would be appreciated instead of in sighting arguments and pissing contests which most of us don’t care to read.

  18. Larry

    September 13, 2013 12:56 PM

    @Dan K,

    “I will apologize for anything you took as a personal attack, even though I genuinely did not mean it that way.”

    Apology accepted

    “I pointed out a mistake. CF and RF are not the same position.”

    I pointed out to you in the other thread, that I said take Shane’s UZR in a normal year, which meant not this year. Obviously all his other seasons were as a centerfielder. So you took that the wrong way, which still doesn’t make sense to me what your interpretation of “a normal year for Shane” would be?

    “And as for using UZR in a one season sample, I already told you. I was using your own parameters.”

    If you went back and looked at the thread, the previous poster was using those same parameters, so that’s why I did….And yet so did you to prove a point you were trying make, after you got upset at me for using those parameters. Again that still doesn’t make sense to me. To be honest with you, I thought you were an absolute idiot at that point. It’s like telling someone not to smoke with a cigarette in your mouth. So yes, I lashed out at you after that and my apologies for doing so. I guess I should have thicker skin.
    (Are you reading this right now RYAN??? Did I get out of hand??)

    Anyhow Dan, you seem like a nice guy, we can both move on, so let’s get back to baseball OK?

    I like Ben Revere, he kind of grew on me and I think a lot of Phillies fans would say the same thing. However, defensively he is not in Shane’s league. He has the worst or one of the worst outfield arms in baseball. I can throw farther than he can, others on this site can as well. Most of us on this site played baseball when we were younger. Dan, if you don’t buy into what Buster Olney said, I just want you to read this article about Victorino from August 26th. This is what Boston has now:

    bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox_mlb/boston_red_sox/2013/08/shane_victorino_s_defensive_play_the_stuff_of_legends

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