2016 Phillies Report Card: Freddy Galvis

Entering 2016, Freddy Galvis has been known as a small, defensive wizard at shortstop with a light, switch-hitting bat. He had the occasional big home run, but would have consistently ranked highly on a hypothetical list of the “least likely power hitters.” However, Galvis ended up being one of the most conspicuous examples of the heightened home run rate that affected all of baseball in 2016.

Freddy Galvis hit 20 home runs in a single season. That’s an unbelievable thing. He hit as many home runs as Carlos Correa, Anthony Rendon, and Russell Martin, all of whom qualified for the batting title. He hit more home runs than Adrian Gonzalez, Ben Zobrist, Alex Gordon, or Dustin Pedroia, all of whom qualified for the batting title. He hit as many home runs as Joe Mauer and Starling Martecombined (again, both of whom qualified for the batting title).

The San Francisco Giants’ three biggest, healthiest bats – Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, and Buster Posey – all produced at least 4.0 fWAR while accumulating over 600 plate appearances, and all hit fewer home runs than Freddy Galvis. The Giants as a whole had a 90-72 pythagorean win-loss record and made it to the NLDS, and not a single batter on that team hit as many home runs as this 5′ 10″ switch-hitting shortstop.

Galvis’ race to 20 home runs felt almost like a weird record chase by the end of the year, and anticipation rose with every game in an otherwise dreary season. What began in the second half as an earnest look at a potential breakout spawned a fun and incredulous series of takes related to Galvis’ impending milestone.

Prior to 2016, Freddy Galvis had accumulated 1153 plate appearances over parts of four seasons, and totaled 20 career home runs. In 2016, he doubled his career total in only 624 plate appearances. However, he has still remarkably stayed true to his initial profile. He produced 15.1 UZR at shortstop this season, among the most valuable of players at that position. However, despite the increased power output, his total offensive production was almost completely unchanged.

His 74 wRC+ is almost exactly his 73 wRC+ career rate, and despite making harder contact, saw a spot-on career average .280 BABIP. His walk and strikeout rates were each a little worse than in the past, and his baserunning was a little better than league average, as it always has been. His final triple-slash line, .241/.274/.399 is remarkably similar to his .241/.279/.369 career marks. Galvis’ preseason ZIPS projections were basically spot on, save for the obvious underestimation of his Isolated Power figure. His projected .281 wOBA matched closely his actual .284 wOBA.

Some may be disappointed to reflect on such a stark improvement in one area of a player’s game, only to realize that the player isn’t significantly more valuable because of it. In the end, it seems like Galvis hit more home runs at the expense of some other areas of his offensive game. The final package is very similar to the player he was entering the 2016 season, but with a special glove like his, that’s more than enough to be a second division regular, or one of the best utility infielders in the league. He hit, and maybe exceeded, every expectation set for him, and made the Phillies’ season more fun with exciting highlight reel plays on both sides of the game.

Grade: B+

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