2013 Phillies Report Card: Freddy Galvis
Freddy Galvis is rooting around the Venezuelan Winter League right now, playing shortstop for los Aguilas de Zulia. When he returns stateside, he’ll almost certainly have a spot with the big league club in 2014. Galvis has two seasons of non-arbitration team control remaining, and has established himself as exactly the kind of utility player any manager would love to have in reserve for the league minimum (or possibly more).
Galvis took some cautious steps forward with the stick in 2013. He started 49 of the 70 games in which he appeared, spelling Michael Young, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins in near equal measure, as well as logging time in the outfield. Still, we’re constrained by a 222 plate appearance sample. His wRC+ rose 18 points from his 2012 mark to 81 in 2013 — still almost 20% below league average, but more easily offset by his defensive prowess. In the style fashionable among newer Phillie hitters, he didn’t draw walks, or crack .400 in slugging percentage, but, considering the contact he did make, the .151 ISO was, let’s say, helpful.
Through the first 422 plate appearances of his career, the switch hitter has exhibited all-around better hitting from the right side of the plate, as well as a preference for pulling the ball, as you can see (outs and reached on error not included, click for big):
This tendency plays well in the generous corners of Citizens’ Bank Park, wherein his wOBA is .321, compared to .243 on the road.
Ultimately, though, his hitting will probably keep him out of the starting lineups of teams better situated than the 2013 Phillies. It’s his excellent defense that will keep him on a roster, at least as long as he’s cheap.
Galvis displays a formidable arm in both strength and accuracy. Even more impressive is his range. One gets the sense — noisy metrics be damned — that at all times, in any orientation, face in the dirt or whatever else, Galvis knows where the ball is, how to get to it, and how good a chance he has at making an out somewhere. He does not have the keen sense of pre-pitch positioning that Chase Utley does, but he doesn’t need it; his rare mix of range and instincts allow him to get to, and get an out from, plays that you’d might as well write off for most other infielders.
Moving leftward on the defensive spectrum is, of course, the direction in which to do it. But it was those instincts and range that allowed Galvis, who cut his teeth as a shortstop, to adapt himself readily to anywhere the Phillies needed to put him. It’s a shame that the roster deficiencies and health issues of the 2013 Phillies forced him to play out of position in the starting role, as an absolute need. Ideally (sigh), the 2014 roster will allow for the role he’s best suited for — providing the luxury of flexibility as a supplement to a strong starting lineup. No, keep breathing. I gave Galvis a C.