Originally written on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 12/20/12
Last week, Bill Baer wrote up a terrific idea he had at Crashburn Alley: the Phillies should play Freddy Galvis at third base whenever John Lannan starts. The thought makes perfect sense and represents the type of minor adjustment that could benefit the team and maximize the utilities of different rostered players. As Baer outlined, about 78% Lannan’s batters faced put the ball in play, 53% of those balls in play are grounders, and over half of those grounders are pulled. Having shaky defense at shortstop and third base would hurt the Phillies run prevention with Lannan on the mound. Jimmy Rollins remains an elite defensive shortstop but the Phils are set to start Michael Young at the hot corner. Young hasn’t played third base regularly since 2010 and was a poor defender even then. Young’s acquisition also leaves Galvis without a clear role. The Phillies could insert him at second base to give Chase Utley a rest and play him alongside Ryan Howard. They could also move Utley to first and play both he and Galvis on the right side of the infield. Rollins might need a day off every now and then as well. Where Galvis could really help the team in a more consistent manner is, as Baer suggested, by playing third base whenever Lannan starts. I want to take that idea one step further. Not only should Galvis start at third base whenever Lannan pitches, but when Lannan is opposed by a fellow southpaw starter, the Phillies should sit Ryan Howard and play Young at first base. This alignment improves the offense by using Young against the lefties he crushes instead of Howard, who is quite poor against same-handed pitching, and clearly improves the infield defense. No, Ryan Howard is not going to be used in a platoon, but the Phillies will look to rest him every now and then. Why not provide structure to those rests in a manner that removes him from the lineup when his impact wouldn’t be felt anyway? It’s not like Lannan is going to face another lefty in all 30+ of his projected starts. We’re talking about maximizing roster productivity over 10-15 games by resting Howard in games where he has a greater chance of struggling. He gets a deserved and needed day off and the Phillies experience a net gain on both offense and defense. The major reason for the improvement is the difference between Young and Howard facing lefties. Consider their numbers against southpaws from 2009-12 shown below. Howard vs. LHP: 2009: .290 wOBA, 71 wRC+ 2010: .359 wOBA, 121 wRC+ 2011: .283 wOBA, 75 wRC+ 2012: .261 wOBA, 60 wRC+ Young vs. LHP: 2009: .372 wOBA, 119 wRC+ 2010: .379 wOBA, 130 wRC+ 2011: .389 wOBA, 139 wRC+ 2012: .346 wOBA, 112 wRC+ Even last season, when Young had his worst year, he was still 12% above average against lefties and substantially better than Howard in this split. Granted, Howard wasn’t on solid footing last year — pun completely, completely intended — but at this point it’s safe to say that he is markedly below average against same-handed pitching. Young, meanwhile, is not only much better against lefties relative to Howard but relative to the entire league. The impact of the difference is far less over just the 10-15 starts in question here, but it’s still material. And while it was a small sample size of 63 PAs last year, Galvis did perform much better against lefties than righties, with a 98 wRC+. His minor league splits weren’t as favorable in this regard, but even so and as strange as it may sound, Galvis and Howard might actually be equal hitters against lefties. By playing Young at first base against lefties when Lannan starts, the Phillies put themselves in a much better position on offense. By replacing Young with Galvis at third base in these games the Phillies improve their infield defense in an important manner given Lannan’s modus operandi. Adding in the chances that Young improves first base defense in these games while Galvis hits lefties at a rate similar to or better than Howard, this seems like a very easy and logical way to improve the team. The Phillies have a number of question marks heading into the season and, as such, should look to maximize productivity through minor adjustments whenever possible. These adjustments might not seem like much in isolation but could add up to an extra couple of wins when taken together. Playing Galvis at third base when Lannan starts is an example. Resting Howard in Lannan’s starts against lefties and moving Young to first base to facilitate Galvis’s start will prove even more beneficial, as the Phils get to rest their slugger while actually improving.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Illinois releases results of women's basketball probe

Richie Incognito named starter by Rex Ryan

DeMarco Murray isn't thrilled Eagles limited reps in practice

Brandon Weeden: 'God forbid I am forced to play' for Dallas

Ben Roethlisberger: Markus Wheaton is ready to break out

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hernandez tipster allegedly had sexual relationship with him

Rookie WR Tyler Lockett has Pete Carroll, Seahawks gushing

Packers TE returns to practice in wake of family tragedy

DeSean Jackson: Revis, Sherman can't stop me

Rob Gronkowski on Patriots LB Jamie Collins: ‘He’s a freak’

Ray Allen won't officially retire in case he gets right offer

Lindsey Vonn shows support for Tiger Woods on Twitter

Report: Rousey to star in film based on her autobiography

Porn star offers to cook meal for any sports champion

Why everyone is wrong about Cowboys Tony Romo, Part 1

Oregon was only team drug tested during CFB Playoff?

Five 2nd year NBA players ready to take the next step

John Daly wants to be US Ryder Cup captain

Rodgers appears in another Olivia Munn workout video

Matt Hasselbeck is still getting random drug tests

Five teams that won at the MLB trade deadline

What should be expected from Aaron Rodgers in 2015?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is waiting for Tim Duncan to match him

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Lindsey Vonn shows support for Tiger

Notre Dame doesn't need a conference

Rex takes jabs at Jets' management

Sanchez: It's 'crazy' to call Chip racist

Ronda Rousey calls out Cyborg

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker