There are specialists for everything in baseball these days. There’s a closer, an eighth-inning setup man, a left-handed specialist, a right-handed specialist. There are bench players who specialize in being pinch-hitters and others as pinch-runners. Until now, really there has never been room for someone who solely is a defensive specialist.
The Philadelphia Phillies have that guy this year in utility infielder Freddy Galvis. He just might be the greatest defensive infielder anyone has ever seen. Yes, I know that borders on hyperbole or even travels to the capital of hyperbole, but for those fans who have had the pleasure of watching Galvis play over the last three years, it is the truth.
Consider the play Galvis made on Sunday in a 2-0 win over the host Arizona Diamondbacks, making a miraculous stop of a vicious line drive and throwing out the runner from his knees in the ninth inning. For many players, that’s a career highlight. For Galvis, that’s a routine play. If you get a chance, watch one of those sports network highlight shows. It will no doubt be high on any top 10 list.
If the ball is hit anywhere near Galvis, he will make the play. It’s that simple.
Here’s the rub about Galvis, though. Defense is really all he has done this year. Last year, Galvis showed a little pop in his bat and even some more in the winter while hitting .335 in the Venezuelan League. Since then, though, Galvis cannot buy a hit. So far, he’s hitting a microscopic .033.
At this stage, he’s a defensive specialist and if you ask pitchers like Jonathan Papelbon, they don’t care what he hits. Manager Ryne Sandberg might someday but that day is not coming anytime soon.