Despite multiple attempts to acquire a shortstop via trade this offseason, the Reds appear to be entering the 2020 season with Freddy Galvis as their starting shortstop.
Originally signing with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 2006, Galvis debuted in 2012 and spent the first six years of his career in Philadelphia. He was traded to the Padres in the winter of 2017, and after playing one season in San Diego he inked a one-year deal with Toronto prior to the 2018 season.
The Reds claimed Galvis off waivers from the Blue Jays on August 12 and immediately inserted him into the starting lineup. He would appear in 32 games for the Reds, starting 23 at second base, but missed the last half of September after spraining his knee.
Galvis had a career year at the plate in 2019, posting a career-high 23 home runs. He also set career-bests in expected slugging percentage (.387) and weighted on-base average (.308), which were both aided by an increase in launch angle (13.2 to 14.2 degrees) and hard hit percentage (28.5% to 36.1%).
Although he seemed to improve drastically at the plate offensively, Galvis’ approach held back his total offensive contribution. His walk-rate slumped to a career-worst 4.8% in 2019, which is a major reason his wRC+ was only 89 (11 percent below league average). Paired with a lack of walks, Galvis had a 37.8% chase rate [See Matt Korte’s post from Monday on the Reds and chase rate.] during his breakout offensive campaign, nearly 10 points higher than MLB average (28.3%).
Where Galvis excels is with his glove, and in 2020 he will return to being a full-time shortstop. Outs Above Average is a new metric from StatCast that measures the number of plays a fielder makes, and accounts for the difficulty of them. During the 2019 season, Galvis finished 12 OAA, tying him with Jose Iglesias for tenth among MLB infielders. He was also 11 OAA in 2018, and has a shown an effectiveness for coming ‘in’ on groundballs, where he was +11 over the past two seasons.
As the Reds roster has shaped itself through free agency additions for 2020, defense has not been a priority. When the Reds exercised Galvis’ $5.5 million option in November, nobody knew if he would end the offseason as the lone shortstop on the roster. He is now expected to be the only full-time shortstop.
There were two priorities when the Reds retained Galvis this offseason: stability and fielding. He has played 780 of a possible 810 games over the previous 5 seasons, including every game between 2017 and 2018. His glove is also a necessity, given the rest of the infield grades out around league-average. Even if Galvis had been resigned as a utility infielder, his presence would have been valuable for the Reds in 2020.
Projections for 2020 indicate a slight regression at the plate for Galvis. Steamer Projections see a decrease in home runs (16) and RBI (61), while expecting his weighted on-base average (.286) and OPS (.675) to return closer to his career averages. Similarly, Marcel Projections see the exact same home run and RBI totals, but his OBP hovering closer to .300, which would mean an improvement in his chase and walk rates. Lastly, ZiPS Projections comes up with a .697 OPS for Galvis, which would be nearly the same as his OPS after joining the Reds in 2019 (.696).
When thinking about Freddy Galvis’ home run explosion in 2019, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that Major League Baseball experienced inflated offensive outputs. It’s hard to imagine Galvis maintaining his production, depending on what kind of ball teams end up using. Despite this, he should be able to keep his OPS around .700, which would be passable due to his defensive value. You can expect David Bell to pencil in Galvis every day at shortstop, and he will prove to be a valuable commodity for the Reds in 2020.
[Featured image: https://twitter.com/Reds/status/1161730861055782913/photo/3]
Editors: Please welcome Spenser Brown as one of our new writers!