Focus on routine outs paying off for Phils shortstop
By Cody Stavenhagen
CHICAGO -- In the second inning of Friday's 6-2 loss to the Cubs, Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis ranged to his backhand side deep in the hole to field a Javier Baez grounder.
Galvis made the stop while running full speed -- that was the easy part -- then planted his right foot despite momentum taking him the other way. Galvis heaved a throw across the infield just in time to nail the speedy Baez.
Another out, another reminder Galvis continues to play Gold Glove-caliber defense in addition to the leadership and energy he has brought this season.
"He's making every play there is," manager Pete Mackanin said Saturday. "If he's not the best shortstop in the league, I'd like to see the guy that's playing as consistent defense as he is."
The fielding metric UZR, or ultimate zone rating, is an all-encompassing measure of how well a player fields his position compared to other fielders, and the stat largely backs Mackanin's statement.
Entering Sunday, Galvis had the third-best UZR among Major League shortstops at 4.4, per FanGraphs. Only the Giants' Brandon Crawford (8.0) and the D-backs' Nick Ahmed (4.8) ranked higher.
Last season, Galvis' UZR of 0.6 was 12th in baseball (a UZR of 0 represents the league average). So what's the difference?
"I've been working with [bench coach Larry Bowa] on trying to set my feet and make the routine plays," Galvis said. "Don't try to do too much. Just throw the ball, catch the ball, and that's it. So far, so good."
After making 17 errors last season, Galvis had only one in 48 games entering Sunday's 7-2 loss before committing one in the fifth inning. The last Phillies shortstop to make just one through the first 48 games of a season was Jimmy Rollins, who didn't commit his second until the 52nd game of his 2007 National League MVP season.
On Sunday, Galvis' second error of the year came when he booted a hard-hit ball to his glove side, and he also rushed a throw to first on a Kris Bryant single. But that doesn't take away from his body of work.
"I'm not going to be critical of Freddy Galvis," Mackanin said. "He's been unbelievable. He's been outstanding."
"I'm just trying to focus every time," Galvis said. "Just make the routine plays."
The range factor stat -- a simple average of putouts and assists per nine innings -- suggests Galvis is fielding a similar amount of balls as last season, and his 2016 range factor of 4.21 is right at the league average.
So, indeed, what has improved is Galvis' ability to make the simple plays.
That said, don't think Galvis doesn't have a flair for the spectacular. He showed that Friday, in addition to plenty of other instances.
Told of Mackanin's comments about him being as good as anyone in the league, Galvis smirked.
"It's good," Galvis said. "If he says it, I believe it. I just try hard every day, try to make the out for the pitcher. That's it."
Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.