Third base has become the rotting tooth in the frowning Phillies infield - Phillies third basemen this year have logged a .166/.250/.276 line, 27 hits, four home runs, and 11 walks in 141 plate appearances.
Here’s how that looks against the rest of the division:
- Nationals (Zimmermann/Rendon): .344/.380/.606
- Braves (Johnson/Pena): .250/.319/.332
- Mets (Wright): .279/.324/.353
- Marlins (McGehee): .318/.382/.403
- Phillies (Asche/Galvis/Nix): .166/.250/.276
First of all, Casey McGehee is shredding for the Marlins, wow, but also, Anthony Rendon has made Ryan Zimmermann's DL stint pretty acceptable for the Nationals. But in the Phillies' case, 3B depth goes only about as far as Asche can take it.
Freddy Galvis is obviously the most documented case of futility, flailing at the plate with a wacky .050 BA in five starts (but it's not like his numbers improve at any other position). Jayson Nix isn’t too far behind in his seven nods at the hot corner, slashing weakly at .190/.292/.333. Opening Day starter Cody Asche is by far the best in-house option with a depressing .214 BA and .643 OPS going into last night.
The context of this is that Asche has started to collect himself; with last night’s game-tying grand slam, he continued his recent improvements, having hit .200 in April but already going 7-for-14 with two doubles and two dingers in May.
Meanwhile, Galvis has shown no signs of improvement, and actually seems to be getting worse with each at-bat. Jayson Nix continues to be Jayson Nix; thought that may be an overstatement, depending on your definition of “self,” after he presumably sold his soul to hit that home run.
The Phillies haven’t been used to significant, consistent production out of third base since probably Scott Rolen – Asche perhaps filling that void was the topic of at least one column this season. But last year, as a third baseman, Michael Young hit .282, though starting him sacrificed defense and speed and he wasn’t hitting a ton of fly balls for a guy with old legs (His “bounce back” year from an atrocious 2012 saw his second-worst SLG ever as a third baseman).
Galvis is in a tough spot. He’s not good enough to start, but he’s someone in which the Phillies have invested innings. His glove is good, but he needs at-bats to right himself; at-bats the team is likely wary to give him, a bench player in a dramatic downward spiral.
Fortunately, the Phillies seem to have Asche on the upswing, and one can only hope that Ryne Sandberg continues to give him the at-bats he needs to stay in what appears to be a groove. This first month, while a small sample size, has shown that at the moment, should Asche falter as he had in April, there is not a lot of depth behind him to provide support. Should Asche’s success continue, the Phillies are over a year away from having to make some sort of gut wrenching decision about him and Maikel Franco. They will have to hope for now that the solution is merely "more time."