My favorite episode of “Community” is season three’s “Remedial Chaos Theory,” in which six realities are presented, each contingent on one friend’s removal from a housewarming party to pay for pizza. The idea is to show how a close group of people interact when you take someone out of the equation; or, to show one person’s impact on the group structure. If you haven’t ever watched this episode, do seek it out, as it’s funny, scary, hilarious and sadly touching, all at the same time.
Now imagine a cohort of recent and current Phillies shortstops – Jimmy Rollins, Michael Martinez, John McDonald, Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis. Now imagine taking one out of the 25-man roster setup, and the realities that their absences present.
I would guess that if you eliminated Martinez or McDonald, the team may actually improve. It’s likely the replacement would perform better, and so those around them may have better RBI opportunities, be positioned better on the field, and feel a little more at ease playing the sport.
On the other hand, eliminate Rollins and the reality becomes something like the “darkest timeline” presented in “Community.” Fires rage, the universe swallows itself whole and evil reigns. Joni Mitchell famously sang “You don’t know what you got til’ it’s gone.” And we know Joni Mitchell never lies. Rollins in 2015 isn’t the same as he was even in 2013, but man, he was special.
Now eliminate Hernandez and Galvis. I would bet the alternate reality that would emerge would be … sort of like the one we live in today. Shortstop is a zero sum. With Galvis out, defense may suffer slightly, but maybe offense rises a little. Galvis is a pretty standard everyday shortstop for a second- or third-division team. In 2015 he hit .263 with a .302 on-base percentage and .343 slugging percentage. He amassed a career high in home runs (7), runs batted in (50) and runs scored (63), mostly because he amassed a career high in plate appearances (603). His strikeout rate is a decent 17.1 percent and his walk rate is a below-average 5 percent. For all intents and purposes, Freddy Galvis is, offensively, average.
Defensively it seems Galvis took a small step back from the “mini wizard” we were told he was in his early career. He committed 17 errors but demonstrated fine range and, at times, made some superb plays. His defensive wins above replacement was 5.9, not on the level of an Aldrelton Simmons or Brandon Crawford, but definitely slightly above average.
Put it together and Galvis is average. He was fourteenth among shortstops in fWAR (1.3) and actually scored a lower bWAR (0.4).
As we remember, Galvis stormed out of the gate offensively, at one point leading the National League in hitting. But, as players do, Galvis reverted to career norms to have a slightly better season than his previous few in the majors. That’s standard for a 25-year-old kid getting everyday playing time, settling into the role and not fearing about his job.
So what now? Well, Galvis is now eligible for arbitration, which means he’ll likely get an average raise for a player of his caliber, which is, again, average. The Phillies could hold onto him, as he has enough trade value to only receive a reliever, maybe a back-end starting pitcher. He can remain a Phillie through his free agent year, which is 2019, and the Phils won’t really miss a beat with him at shortstop. Long as they upgrade around him with better offensive players, they’ll be fine.
But that’s another alternate reality, one where an elite shortstop named J.P. Crawford isn’t a quick car ride from making us forget Galvis ever existed. Crawford should be the Phillies’ starting shortstop by the all-star break, which would plummet Galvis’ value. So maybe the Phillies trade Galvis before April, get that young reliever or back-end starter, and slot Andres Blanco – another average player – at short until Crawford arrives.
Either way, a Galvis-free reality is near. And that’s okay. Especially when a reality of J.P. Crawford has us hoping it’s the brightest timeline:
As for Freddy …
You know, average.