Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis has run into some defensive issues in the first few games of 2016. He’s only been charged with one error, but he’s made a couple errors in my book. He made an errant throw on a relay to home against the Reds, and he dropped a would-be double play ball against the Mets. That’s the bad. He has plenty of good, though. He has the ability to make absolute Web Gems in the field. We’ve seen him flash the leather many times, but we’ve seen him miss easy plays too.
His advanced metrics in the field suggest he’s a below average defender at shortstop. Last year, he was below league average in both Baseball Info Solutions’ and Total Zone Total Fielding Defensive Runs Saved Above Average per 1,200 innings. He was a little above average in Range Factor as well. Anyone that has watched him play might scoff at those rankings. And that’s the thing: he’s too good to be that bad.
How is it that the same guy that can make this play, makes so many poor plays too? Would it be correct to call him a bad defender?
My answer is no.
I don’t usually like to go against what advanced metrics say, but in this case I will. Fielding errors, in my opinion, are just as much mental as physical. It’s not like there is some Cy Young award winner tossing ground balls that curve. A ground ball is a ground ball. Plain and simple. One off the bat of one player is generally the same as one off the bat of almost any other player. Same thing with line drives and pop ups. I don’t think Galvis is a bad defender. He’s just prone to making mistakes— there’s a difference.
It’s one thing to be Ryan Howard from a few years ago in the field. It’s another to be very good, but to also make mistakes.
Still, even though I don’t think he’s a bad defender, the Venezuela native’s defense does hurt the Phillies from time to time. That’s a legitimate concern.
Galvis has the ability to improve that, though. We’ve seen what he can do, he just has to do that more consistently. And if he doesn’t he may find himself on the bench behind rising superstar prospect J.P. Crawford, who sports similar skills on defense along with a mightier bat, sooner rather than later.