Analysis

Galvis Not Fit For Leadoff Role

041312-freddy-galvis-400.jpgAnother day, another lineup card that looks ominously terrible:

  1. Galvis – SS
  2. Hernandez – 2B
  3. Herrera – CF
  4. Franco – 3B
  5. Ruf – 1B
  6. Ruiz – C
  7. Bourjos – RF
  8. Goeddel – LF
  9. Morton – SP

The Phillies face the Nationals and left-hander Gio Gonzalez this afternoon, and there’s a better than 50 percent chance Freddy Galvis leads off by making an out. In fact, in 43 plate appearances for Galvis, he has made an out 32 times. His .256 on-base percentage is tied for 176th of 204 qualified hitters in the early going. Despite having the lowest on-base mark of qualified Phils hitters, Galvis has led off five games already. Today will make it six.

Galvis has also seen just 154 pitches, or just 3.58 pitches per plate appearance. Galvis isn’t the kind of hitter who should ever be aggressive – the best he may normally do on a first-pitch fastball is slug a double – and as a leadoff hitter, the last thing the Phils need is a hacker.

Conversely the Phillies happen to be employing the most patient hitter in the baseball. Odubel Herrera has seen 255 pitches (yes, 101 more pitches than Galvis) in his 49 appearances. That’s 5.2 pitches per at bat. Herrera’s 11 walks are third in baseball behind Jose Bautista and Gregory Polanco. (By the way, Herrera had 28 walks all of last season.)

It’s painfully obvious that Herrera should have the most plate appearances on the team; the only way to ensure that is to stick him in the leadoff spot. Pete Mackanin would be wise to move Herrera up to the top.

The problem, of course, is Herrera is capable of producing runs, and his value there is wasted when hitting leadoff.

So here’s an idea to alleviate that worry while giving Galvis a low-pressure situation in which to revive his offensive skill: move Galvis to the nine-hole.

We associate the pitcher-hitting-eighth strategy with Tony LaRussa’s Cardinals. The idea is to get a replacement-level hitter with a slap-hitting or speed profile at nine to set up the top of the order. Galvis fits that mold in that he has decent speed and, when working, slashes plenty of singles. He’s not a classic run producer. Stick him at nine and let him work out his problems. A lineup would look like this:

  1. Herrera – CF
  2. Hernandez – 2B
  3. Franco – 3B
  4. Howard / Ruf – 1B
  5. Ruiz / Rupp – C
  6. Bourjos – RF
  7. Hunter / Goeddel – LF
  8. SP
  9. Galvis – SS

That said, Mackanin doesn’t have much wiggle room with this lineup. Besides Herrera and Franco (and Ryan Howard‘s home runs) the offense has been atrocious. Peter Bourjos, Cedric Hunter and Tyler Goeddel haven’t yet stepped up (though putting Darin Ruf in left field helps ensure they never get another opportunity to do so), and Cesar Hernandez has cooled off to his typically mediocre line after a luekwarm start.

So here we are, Game 13 and another bad offensive performance on tap. And with the best on-base threat relegated to the three-hole, the Phillies are giving themselves fewer opportunities to benefit.

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