Going Deep: World, the Time Has Come to Galvanize
So I think it’s fair to say that the season Freddy Galvis has had so far has been a bit of a surprise. As of this writing, Galvis is slashing .395/.435/.744 which is pretty fantastic, and I think it’s perfectly fair to wonder just how much of this is legit and how much is a mirage.
At first glance, this looks like a nice hot streak and that’s it. He’s got a .419 BABIP and a 22.2% HR/FB rate, and if you looked at that and said “HA, this is all garbage,” then I understand. However, Galvis has clearly made a change to his approach and while he’s clearly not going to hit .400 all year, I think he could still potentially be a useful fantasy asset.
Galvis actually has been useful before—in 2016 with the Philadelphia Phillies, he slashed .241/.274/.399 with 20 home runs and 17 steals. While that’s a godawful OBP, a near-20/20 season is still a pretty useful player in fantasy.
But that was pretty much the end of his usefulness. The next two years he was a perfectly fine MLB player, albeit one that wasn’t all that special (and a liability from an OBP perspective). So it makes sense that he was all but forgotten this year after joining the Toronto Blue Jays (in fact, I almost drafted him for our Pitcher List Worstball league).
But there’s something different about Galvis this year, and what first popped out to me is his batted-ball data. Now, I want to preface all of this by saying this is a small sample size, so percentages and stuff will be a little off, but I still think it’s noticeable enough to be significant.
If you look at Galvis’s batted-ball data, one of the first things that pop out is the fact that he’s lofting the ball a lot more. Last year, he had a 41.4% groundball rate, and owns a 39.4% career groundball rate. So far this year, his groundball rate sits at 25.7%, a career-low by a longshot.
Similarly, his fly ball rate last year was 36.5%, and he owns a 38.6% fly ball rate on his career. So far this year? That fly ball rate has jumped up to 51.4%.
Does this bear itself out in his Statcast data? You bet.
On the left is Galvis’s launch angle last year, on the right is so far this year. What’s important here is the shift, he’s hitting a lot more balls a lot higher. In fact, his average launch angle has increased from 13.2 degrees last year to 18.4 degrees this year.
But more importantly? He’s hitting the ball really hard. His barrel rate has shot up from a career-best 3.9% last year, to 14.3% this year. That’s a massive jump. And his hard-hit rate (percentage of balls hit at least 95 MPH) jumped up from 28.5% last year to 42.9% this year.
And I think this is, in part, thanks to a change Galvis has made in his approach. Take a look at his batting stance last year (left) compared to this year (right):
Galvis has opened up his stance quite a bit, raised his arms some, it’s a whole new stance. And take a look at his swing too.
Here’s last year (side note: pour one out for the umpire who gets nailed here):
And here’s this year:
The big thing I notice with Galvis this year is the leg kick—it’s a bit more pronounced. That, combined with the new stance, leads me to believe that this is a whole new approach for Galvis, and that can oftentimes lead to success for hitters. It also might be why he’s been lofting the ball more and hitting it a lot harder.
There is, without a doubt, regression in store for Galvis, that BABIP and that HR/FB rate are not going to keep up. He’s hitting .395 with a .494 wOBA, but his xBA is .287 and his xwOBA is .371, according to Statcast. Those both suggest regression, but even if he regresses to that, that’s a career-best average and wOBA by a mile.
Plus, if the power keeps up, he could easily surpass 20 home runs. I don’t think he’s going to have the near-20-steal ability he had in the past, as those have gone down each year, but I could still see close to 10 steals. And if he hits .270/.280ish with 20-25 home runs and 8-10 steals, that’s a pretty solid fantasy asset (that’s basically a slightly-lesser Eddie Rosario).
World, the time has come to GALVANIZE.
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)