Freddy Galvis had perhaps the most interesting 2012 season of any Phillies player. He lived up to the hype defensively, lived down to his offensive reputation, essentially broke his back while batting and was suspended for having trace amounts of a performance-enhancing drug in his system. When on the field, he was about what everyone expected, and was relied upon as a regular starter with Chase Utley on the disabled list.
Galvis played in 58 games and tallied 200 plate appearances. He hit .226/.254/.363, with a .267 wOBA and 64 wRC+.
His light-hitting was expected, as he had a 74 wRC+ in 1,072 Double-A plate appearances from 2009-11, and an 82 wRC+ in 126 Triple-A plate appearances in 2011.
The major league equivalency for those numbers is right around what Galvis produced, and while 44% of his hits went for extra bases, his approach at the plate was generally lacking. He doesn’t walk, strikes out more than the typical slap-hitter, and doesn’t hit the ball very hard.
He isn’t known for his offense, however, and his defense was so good that it became difficult to remove him from the lineup. Though he only played 1/3 of the season, he finished with a +5.6 fielding rating, manning 2B for 416 innings and SS for another 36 innings. He excelled in both areas and showed himself to be a valuable utility infielder.
His overall fielding rating ranked among the league leaders despite the fact that he didn’t even technically qualify for the leaderboard. Galvis was an elite fielder playing a new position and playing it as well as the player he was filling in for, who oh-by-the-way, just happens to have the highest fielding rating at the position over the last five seasons.
Unfortunately, due to the injury and the suspension, that’s all we can really say about Galvis.
It’s tough to project his production moving forward because it’s unclear if or how the back injury will impact his performance. It’s also unclear what position he will play next season, which obviously factors into his projection.
While the Phillies will likely use him to spell Utley, he will probably see more time at third base, another new position. It’s doubtful that Galvis would struggle in moving to third, considering how well he plays shortstop, but it remains an unknown.
His best comp is probably Clint Barmes, who can’t hit, but who fields as well as anyone. Barmes hit .229/.273/.321 last season, with a .260 wOBA and a 62 wRC+, an offensive stat-line almost identical to Galvis.
Barmes also finished with a +14.4 fielding rating and 1.7 WAR. Had Galvis played the entire season, his numbers would have looked like this. He would have finished with league average — or slightly below — production fueled almost entirely by his glove. That has value, especially at the league minimum salary.
If a grade has to be given, I would give Galvis a C, similarly to how I graded Placido Polanco. A run saved defensively is a run produced on offense, and Galvis saved runs at an elite pace. I’m bearish on his long-term prospects as an everyday player, but see no reason that he couldn’t thrive as a utility infielder and late-innings replacement.
It’s tough to officially grade someone that missed so much of the season, but his glove made a big impact over the first third of the season.