October 26, 2017
For the second consecutive year, Freddy Galvis has been named a finalist for a Rawlings Gold Glove Award, the long-time prestigious honor bestowed on the top defensive players in baseball for the last 60 years.
Galvis and Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera were each one of three finalists at their respected positions in the National League, shortstop and center field, a year ago but both lost out on the honors (to San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford and Atlanta center fielder and former Phillies Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte, respectively). Herrera did not make the cut in 2017.
The 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners will be announced on Election Day, Nov. 7.
“Let’s see what happens,” Galvis said when asked about his chances following the final game of the regular season earlier this month. “I think the numbers are there. Let’s see what happens."
The 27-year-old Galvis is hardly a surprising finalist. Whether he can claim his first Gold Glove Award is another story, however.
Galvis’ splendid defense – both on routine plays and highlight-reel worthy fare – was arguably the most enjoyable thing to watch in Phillies games over the last two seasons before Rhys Hoskins’ personal Home Run Derby arrived at Citizens Bank Park two months ago.
Galvis’ .989 fielding percentage ranked first among all major league shortstops. Only four shortstops in baseball played more innings than Galvis’ 1,359 1/3 in 2017. And among the 18 shortstops that played at least 1,000 innings, no one made fewer errors than Galvis, who made seven in 155 starts. Detroit’s Jose Iglesias also made just seven errors (in 1,116 1/2 innings).
In advanced metrics, Galvis’s 10.6 Defensive Runs Above Average ranks third best in the National League behind Crawford (13.2) and Los Angeles’s Corey Seager (12.7). Defensive Runs Above Average, also known as DEF, is one of the building blocks for of WAR (Wins Above Replacement) among portion players, a Fangraphs metric uses to measure a player’s defensive value relative to league average.
Galvis' biggest hurdle in collecting what would be his first Gold Glove is Crawford.
Historically, it's been tough for players to win the award when the reigning winner at the position is also a worthy candidate. Crawford has won each of the last two NL Gold Glove Awards at shortstop and his advanced metrics grade out better than anyone in baseball other than Los Angeles Angels' wiz Andrelton Simmons. Crawford made 11 errors in 606 total chances in 1,201 innings this season (Galvis made seven errors in 637 total chances in 1,359 1/3 innings).
Six weeks ago we asked Galvis who he thought the best defensive shortstop in baseball was – among other things – in The Q&A with the long-time infielder.
If Galvis grades out well both on the eye test and in advanced metrics, it's somewhat surprising Herrera did not make the cut for what would have been a second straight year, since he also passes both tests. Herrera’s 8.8 DEF also ranks third at his position in the NL, trailing Washington’s Michael Taylor (11.7) and Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton (9.6).
Taylor, Hamilton, and Inciarte were announced as the NL center field finalists on Thursday.
Among 14 MLB center fielders who played in at least 1,000 innings, only two (Miami’s Christian Yelich and Toronto’s Kevin Pillar) made fewer errors than Herrera (two in 1,144 innings/128 games started). Although often more celebrated for his spectacular plays, Herrera has been a steady presence in the Phils outfield for the last two seasons and ranked 10th in MLB Statcast’s Outs Above Average among all MLB outfielders (regardless of specific position in the outfield) in 2017.
Another reason Herrera seemed to have an easier path to becoming a finalist: he plays in the National League. The American League has been littered with Gold Glove-worthy center fielders in recent seasons (Mike Trout, Kevin Kiermaier, Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr.) and Minnesota's Byron Buxton is likely to be a runaway winner.
Alas, Herrera will have to wait until 2018 for his next attempt to capture gold. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez's numbers could have also warranted a spot among the three National League finalists, but he also did not make the cut (although someone who started fewer than 70 games at the position did make it).
The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards are determined by votes from major league managers and coaches within each league (they are unable to vote for players on their own teams, however). For the last five seasons, those votes account for about 75 percent of the final tallies, the other, "approximately 25 percent" is determined by the sabermetrics community, namely the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)'s Defensive Index.
The Phillies have not had a Gold Glove winner since 2012 when shortstop Jimmy Rollins captured the fourth of his career.
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21
Like PhillyVoice Sports on Facebook.