Pete Mackanin’s last lineup as Phillies manager went up just outside the entrance to the clubhouse around noon Sunday. Shortstop Freddy Galvis, the player who had been in it more than any other this season, was not in the final one.
That bit of news meant little in the big picture of the just completed season. Galvis’ aspiration to start all 162 games ended earlier this month after rookie J.P. Crawford joined the team from triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Galvis made a pinch-hitting appearance to open the top of the sixth inning of the Phillies’ 11-0 win over the New York Mets, which allowed him to become one of just five big-league players this season to play all 162 games. He became the 15th player in franchise history to participate in that many games and the first since Ryan Howard in 2008.
His body of work did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Before he stepped to the plate, possibly for the final time as a Phillie, he received a rousing ovation from the Citizens Bank Park crowd of 25,754. He responded with a double to right-center field, leaving his final offensive line at .255 with 29 doubles, 12 home runs and 61 RBIs. He had a .309 on-base percentage and .691 OPS.
After the final out, Galvis’ teammates all hugged him and Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa grabbed him because he wanted to take a photograph together – one great Phillies shortstop next to another.
“This organization has been blessed with great shortstops for a long time,” Bowa said. “He’s right up there with all of us. He might be better than all of us. He’s great. He’s a great defensive shortstop. There are no plays I haven’t seen him make. If he doesn’t win a Gold Glove, I give up.”
When the Gold Glove finalists are revealed later this month, it would be shocking and a disservice if Galvis was not in the running for the title of the best fielding shortstop in the National League, a distinction voted upon by coaches and managers. His seven errors were tied with Jose Iglesias for the fewest among all major-league shortstops and he had 99 more chances than the Detroit shortstop. Galvis has made just 15 errors in the last two seasons.
Hitting has always been the weakest part of Galvis’ game and that remains a question mark. A year ago he shocked us all by slamming 20 home runs, but his .274 on-base percentage was the lowest among baseball’s 146 hitters who qualified for a batting title. His home run total dipped this season, but his on-base percentage rose. He still only 17th among the 20 big-league shortstops and 134th among baseball’s 145 qualifying hitters in on-base percentage.
“Yeah, but if you put Freddy on a real good offensive team, nobody worries about what he hits,” Bowa said. “He hit .255 with close to 30 doubles and 61 RBIs, and he makes all the plays. I’m sure they’d like to see him walk a little bit more, but he’s that kind of a player. I think there are a lot of teams that would love to have him.”
Scouts from opposing teams love Galvis for his glove as well as his ability and desire to play every day. He also developed into a clubhouse leader this season on a youthful team in need of some guidance. His stout defense was contagious and a big reason why the Phillies finished with the fourth-best fielding percentage in the National League. The Phillies made only three errors in their final 21 games.
“Every coach and player on our team respects him,” Mackanin said.
Yet it’s still possible that Galvis could be traded in the offseason to make room for Crawford at shortstop.
“I don’t know man, it’s kind of weird,” Galvis said. “I think it’s going to be the first time in the offseason with that kind of situation. I just have to be ready for whatever happens.”
Bowa says he does not think the Phillies can make a wrong decision.
“Whether it is Freddy or Crawford, I think with both they’re in good hands,” Bowa said. “Again, that’s their call upstairs. But I think you’re blessed to have four middle infielders – Cesar Hernandez, Scott Kingery, Crawford, and Freddy – who can play. Two of them have already proven themselves, and I love what I’ve seen from the other two.”
Matt Klentak gave his scouting report on Crawford Friday, and it sounded as if the general manager believes the rookie proved he is ready for the big leagues next season.
“At the time we called (Crawford) up one of the objectives was to get enough of a look at him in September to help formulate a plan for next year,” Klentak said. “I think what we’ve seen from J.P. is he looks like an impact defender, no matter where you put him. From a versatility perspective that is incredibly valuable to us.
“One of the things I’ve been encouraged by offensively is that J.P. looks like the same guy in terms of his pitch recognition. He still takes pitches, he still grinds at-bats, he still takes his walks. Even as the batting average ebbs and flows, as long as he is taking his walks on a consistent basis, his production level is never going to fall too far. I do think as he gets to know the league and as he gets stronger, his production in terms of bat-to-ball skills will improve as well.”
What that means for Freddy Galvis remains to be seen. Regardless, it does not change the fact that he just had a special season.