20 home runs. 17 stolen bases. A league-leading .987 fielding pct at shortstop. Gold Glove award finalist.
These stats seem like they would come from someone who is set in stone as a key contributor and cornerstone piece for a ball club. For Freddy Galvis, though, these stats could just be providing other teams with more reason to trade for this guy.
Freddy Galvis has been a part of the Phillies’ organization since being signed as a 16-year-old free agent from Venezuela way back in 2006. Galvis took a long time to make his way up to the big club, finally making his major league debut in 2012 at age 22. The slick-handed shortstop didn’t become a regular in the Phillies lineup until 2015, when the Phils finally moved on from Jimmy Rollins as the every day shortstop. Before that, Galvis had been a part of the Phillies major league club in different parts of the previous 3 seasons, mainly being featured as a utility infielder who would spell the veterans every once in a while.
Galvis was always good with the glove. His bat, though, didn’t really come around until he was given regular at-bats in 2015. Freddy finished the year with a .263 batting average while clubbing 7 home runs and driving in 50 RBI in 559 at-bats for the 2015 Phils. The batting average was the highest it had been during his major league career, and the best it had been through a full season of at-bats since his 2011 minor league season in which he hit .278 during his time combined with the Reading Phillies and Lehigh Valley Ironpigs. He followed that season with another pretty good year at the plate. Although the average dropped down to .241, which is closer to what he hovered around during most of his minor league years, his power numbers replaced what had been lost in the batting average department, turning those 7 home runs from 2015 into 20 bombs in 2016. His 50 RBI in 2015 rose to 67 in 2016. His 10 stolen bases in 2015 were surpassed by his 17 bags stolen during the 2016 season. All in all, Galvis saw a rise in most offensive categories.
Where he did fall from the previous season, though, was the aforementioned batting average department. He also saw a rise in his strikeout numbers, going from striking out 103 times in 2015 to 136 times in 2016. His on-base percentage dropped from .302 in 2015 to .274 in 2016. A major league shortstop should really be getting on base a lot more than Freddy did in 2016. It seemed as though the only time he was on base was when he was rounding the bases after his 20 home runs. Every baseball fan knows that your prototypical shortstop isn’t the guy who should be bashing home runs and should instead be setting the table for the other power bats in the lineup. Of course there have been plenty of exceptions to this usual proclamation, but Freddy will probably never be a Cal Ripken or A-Rod type who will be such a great hitter that it won’t matter where they play in the field.
It is clear that Galvis’ strong suit will never be his bat, but he makes up for it in the field. Subsequently beaten by multi-time gold glove shortstop Brandon Crawford of the Giants, Freddy was good, or might I say great, enough in the field to be named a Gold Glove finalist in 2016. He led all qualified National League shortstops with a .987 fielding percentage, making only 8 errors in 625 total chances during the year. He also led NL shortstops in total putouts with 210. His 156 games at the position in 2016 were second only to now former Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa. Freddy is in the game to shore up the defense up the middle for the Phils. He will never be a Jimmy Rollins type player that will throw up MVP numbers on both sides of the ball. With that said, is his average bat along with his elite defense enough to keep him in Philadelphia long term? JP Crawford might have a little something to say about that.
Crawford is of course the number 1 prospect in the Phillies organization and has been among the top 10 prospects in all of baseball for the last few years. His time to finally make it to the majors is coming quicker than we realize, and for a player like Freddy Galvis, that could spell the end for him being the Phillies’ everyday shortstop. The Phillies have no intention right now of taking Crawford out of that position, so the shortstop of the future spot is his to lose. Now, where does this leave the veteran Galvis? Freddy is still only heading into his age-27 season. He’s got plenty of gas left in the tank to make an impact at the major league level. Simply put, he is not the long-term plan at shortstop for this team that wants to get back to their winning ways sooner than later, and JP Crawford has the potential to be the leader of the next great Phillies team.
This leaves them in a predicament with Galvis, who is a very useful and proven major league player. His glove alone will keep him around for years, but will those years be spent in a Phillies uniform? Or will a team that has enough offensive pieces in other places be able to afford the average bat Freddy possesses and plug him in at shortstop so that he can play Gold Glove defense elsewhere? It is one of those bittersweet things in baseball. You’ve got a guy that has worked his way through every part of the Phillies’ ranks to finally make an impact at the big league level. A person who has been a part of this baseball club for parts of 12 years now won’t be easy to say goodbye to, but eventually the Phils are going to have to give Freddy an opportunity to play regularly somewhere else. He has proven to be more than a utility infielder, which he would probably become if he were around for the upcoming emergence of JP Crawford. I think 2017 might be the year where we see Freddy Galvis used as some trade deadline bait and sent away to a team that would need his services much more than the Phillies.
The answer to the question of whether or not Freddy Galvis is a building block for the Phillies or a seat warmer for the young JP Crawford might be as obvious as it looks. Freddy has had great success here in Philly and it has been fun to see him grow into his own, but when Crawford is ready to go and we see his full potential come to life, the Phillies would be doing Galvis a disservice bringing him along for the ride. Freddy could join those players such as Clay Buchholz, Howie Kendrick and Joaquin Benoit who were brought in to basically be traded in July. It is unfortunate because Galvis has done nothing but good for the Phillies and their organization, but it seems like he will be embarking on a different journey in a different place sometime in the near future.
Photo: SEPTA9 (Via: Flickr)