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2015 Phillies Player Review: Freddy Galvis

After a solid first month, Freddy Galvis' bat looked like we expected it to, and his defense, surprisingly, showed flaws as well. The Phillies likely will be moving on from the Freddy Galvis era as a result.

#1 Changing Table: Freddy Galvis
#1 Changing Table: Freddy Galvis
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This past summer, my then-girlfriend (now-wife) and I moved in together and the issue of how we would arrange and organize our clothes in our modestly-sized new apartment was a bit uncertain. In my previous place of residence, I used a dresser that was the property of my landlord. The dresser she had been using broke beyond repair during the move. While Sharon was able to procure a quite nice dresser to house her clothing through the generosity of a friend, I was left to take to Craigslist to find an organizing medium for my wardrobe.

After two weeks of little luck finding a suitable and cost-effective option on Craigslist, I came upon an ad for a $30 "dresser" being sold in my neighborhood. It was about a drawer short of containing my possessions and, if we're being precise, was not technically a dresser. In fact, it would be more accurately described as a baby changing table. As I mentioned, it was slightly too small for my needs, in addition to neither being a dresser nor matching the quite nice dresser Sharon had already acquired. But, I was tired of staring at the piles of my clothes arranged--very neatly, I might add--along the floor beside her dresser, and decided that, for $30, it would be suitable until we had the necessary funds to purchase something bigger and more sightly.

Months later, I still have it. It is ugly, small, and doesn't figure at all into our long-term (or even medium-term) plans for the space. Nevertheless, it is still a massive improvement over digging through neatly arranged piles on the floor to find things to wear. It has and will serve just fine until we have enough money to buy a better one in a couple months.

A couple months prior to the dresser saga, the Phillies were trying to turn whatever value was left in their veteran players into players or prospects who might help rebuild a somewhat depleted farm system and help them return to competitive relevance. Those players didn't serve much use to the Phillies of 2015 and beyond. They were still productive, but not good enough to vault the team into playoff contention, and, more importantly, had little hope of being contributing members of the club when the team figured to be good again years down the road.

Yet, due to a combination of lack of present value and lack of plausible replacements available in the high minors, players like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Carlos Ruiz were not likely to get moved prior to the season. One player, however, projected to contribute positively in 2015 and had an unexciting, yet usable, replacement waiting in the wings. That player was Jimmy Rollins.

So, on December 19th, the Phillies traded a player who had once been the face of the franchise to the Dodgers for two minor league pitchers and, essentially, assured that Freddy Galvis would be the team's starting shortstop for the entirety of 2015, at the very least.

Freddy Galvis, like the changing table I purchased for $30, wasn't at all what the Phillies were looking for long term. In 550 plate appearances spread across three seasons prior to 2015, Galvis had hit over 30% worse than league average with 0.4 fWAR to his name, thanks to solidly above-average advanced defensive numbers. Nothing in his minor league career or scouting reports suggested that the bat would improve enough to make him a first division regular, but that was fine. His defense was enough that he wouldn't be a total embarrassment, the way as a point of contrast, say, Jerome Williams might be. The Phillies had one of the top prospects in baseball, J.P. Crawford, at shortstop who could take over in two years or so. A poorly matching, slightly too small changing table would suit them just fine for the time being.

For the first month of the season, Galvis suited them more than just fine. In April, he hit .355/.395/.434, a line good enough to be 30% above league average. He made spectacular defensive plays, in accordance with his reputation, and sported a pretty nifty ninja suit when the cold struck. Sure, he wasn't going to hit .355 forever, but maybe, at just 25 years old, there was enough development left to make a starter out of him after all. Maybe he would be able to tie the room together after all.

Then the warm weather came; hitting season, if you will. In the more temperate climes from May until the end of the season, Galvis hit just about how we should have expected him to hit all along (.248/.287/.329) with defense that rated as merely slightly above-average. In those final 521 plate appearances, pretty much any shade of hope that he might develop a bat potent enough to overcome his fated destiny as a utility infielder disappeared for good.

The bat was never really the story with Freddy Galvis, though. Sure, it was always there as the fatal flaw that kept him from ever being considered a worthy successor to Rollins, but it was always the defense that fans and scouts kept coming back to as the tool that would carry him to a fruitful career as a major league bench player. And that disappeared too.

Galvis' defense in 2015 can be best described as inconsistent. While he frequently displayed the range and arm strength that made his defense worth fawning over, more often than not it seemed like he wasn't particularly keen on expending the effort necessary to consistently deliver on that level. His highlight reel for 2015 is phenomenal and rivals that of just about any shortstop in the game (recall the play featured at around the 1:40 mark), but, as we all know from the days of Pasta Diving Jeter, good defense requires more than making spectacular-looking plays.

On some level, Galvis' plight with defensive inconsistency deserves sympathy since he was playing for a terrible baseball team and winning games didn't hinge on his ability to provide elite defense. At the same time, though, one has to question the drive and "makeup" of a player who doesn't bring it consistently when fighting to establish himself as a major leaguer even on a bad team.

Those questions are big enough that the Phillies should feel immensely confident tossing him aside as soon as J.P. Crawford is ready just as I will be carting my $30 changing table proudly to the curb when I can afford a bigger, more aesthetically pleasing dresser in a couple months.