Galvis’ bat playing catch-up to his glove
PHILADELPHIA >> Freddy Galvis’ glove should go down as the symbolic standard bearer of the 2016 Phillies. Maybe it can even be given a starring role in the club’s video review of the season (do they still produce those things?).
Galvis’ performances at shortstop this season have been outstanding, and seem to be getting better. He went into Tuesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates
leading the major leagues in fielding percentage at .989, with only six errors in 552 total chances. He last made an error July 22, and had gone 46 games since without a miscue.
It’s easy to overlook such an accomplishment as what Galvis has provided with his glove this season ... especially since his team never seems to score enough runs for great defense and semicompetent pitching to matter. What more do you need to know about the Phillies than their leading MVP candidate is a glove man?
But Galvis seemingly has taken it upon himself to do something about that ... score himself.
Heading into Tuesday’s game, Galvis had hit three home runs in his previous four games, and nine in his last 30 games.
“Geez,” manager Pete Mackanin said, “if he ends up leading the team in home runs we’re going to have to re-evaluate our assessment of what kind of hitter he’s supposed to be.”
That would be an interesting topic for discussion.
Of course, it’s pretty much been that all season.
Nearly three months ago, Galvis embroiled in a slump, Mackanin openly questioned the shortstop’s approach at the plate. He thought Galvis was overswinging, trying too hard to ... yes, hit home runs.
When those thoughts were relayed to Galvis, he seemed to mildly take umbrage to it.
“Two weeks ago I was hitting .250 and I didn’t hear nothing about it,” Galvis said after a 5-1 loss to Arizona on June 19, which was the Phillies’ 23rd loss in 29 games at the time. “Now I’m hitting .210 and everybody starts saying something. It’s baseball, man. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t have it. Sometimes you have it for 10 years and then you lose it for two or three years. The key is to keep working.”
So Galvis worked, and via some advice from hitting coach Steve Henderson, started to stay back better on pitches. His power numbers have picked up, as has his batting average.
The rise has been slow but steady, Galvis going from .210 in those dark days of late June to .236
through Monday. But his slugging percentage has risen from .336 to .397 over that same time.
Galvis has led league shortstops in slugging percentage since Aug. 9, at a .579 clip. He had nine home runs prior to Aug. 9, and he’s had nine since. Though Mackanin had complained of Galvis’ perceived penchant for homers, he hasn’t been saying much about it lately, with Galvis literally doubling his homer total in some five weeks’ time.
At 18 home runs, Galvis is two shy of his previous total of 20 in 322 games. Entering Tuesday’s game he was tied with Tommy Joseph for third in the team rankings, behind the struggling Maikel Franco (22) and Ryan Howard (21).
“We should have told him to hit home runs from Day 1,” Mackanin said of Fearsome Freddy. “He might have 40 by now.”
Either way, Mackanin continues to wish to see Galvis become a more streamlined kind of hitter, whether he’s poking line drives to the gaps like the manager would prefer, or upper-cutting balls over walls like Galvis has been doing lately.
That’s because Pete Mackanin wants Freddy Galvis to go nowhere but into his starting lineup every night, and that’s because of that shining standard of the Phillies’ 2016 season, the Galvis Glove.
“Freddy, he’s had a great season as far as defense,” Mackanin said. “He’s a winning player. He just needs to improve his plate discipline . ... If you surround Freddy Galvis with a lot of good hitters, that’s a winning shortstop right there.”
Perhaps so. But that’s certainly not going to
happen anytime soon.
While Mackanin still has questions about Galvis’ long-term viability, the guy at second is winning him over.
Cesar Hernandez has cut down on his fielding mistakes while maintaing a batting average around the .290 mark during the second half of the season.
Mackanin has taken notice of Hernandez’s newfound consistency. Asked to list positive developments this season, Mackanin will quickly point to his second baseman.
“One thing that comes to mind is Cesar Hernandez, pretty much getting close to establishing himself as a leadoff guy,” Mackanin said. “Drawing walks, making a pitcher throw pitches, on-base percentage, hitting .290, making the plays at second base...
“When you see that for a prolonged period of time, it’s been pretty impressive.”
While the middle infielders have been better in the plate production department of late, first baseman Tommy Joseph ... has not.
Joseph homered Saturday, his first since Aug.
24. This from a guy who had blasted 17 of them in just over two months’ time leading up to that. Joseph, who was promoted from Class AAA Lehigh Valley for his first game May 13, is tied with Galvis at 18 homers, but his batting average has slipped to .243 with a .770 OPS. He started Tuesday’s game on the bench in favor of Howard.
“Tommy Joseph came in like balls of fire and was hitting home runs almost daily, it seemed like,” Mackanin said. “Now he’s kind of slowed down a bit. He’s going through that adjustment period.”
Joseph is expected back in the lineup Wednesday, but Mackanin said Howard will be no lineup stranger over the last few weeks.
“Since this may be Howard’s last time as a Phillie, I’ll probably lean towards giving him a little more playing time than I normally would have before,” Mackanin said. “I think that’d be nice to do that for him and he’s swinging OK.”
Phillies’ shortstop Freddy Galvis has been a wizard with the glove — and sometimes even without one in the field — while picking up his power numbers at the plate.