Opening Day Ages: Michael Young: 36, Jimmy Rollins: 34, Chase Utley: 34, Ryan Howard: 33, Carlos Ruiz: 34. Goddamn our infield is old.See, what did I tell you? Super old.
— Thomes Homies (@thomeshomies) December 9, 2012
The Phillies had the same problem with the 2012 version of the infield, only the third baseman has changed, and (obviously) they're all a year older. Last year I suggested a plan to keep the infield well-rested, and therefore, less injury prone and more effective, and it might apply even more to this year's infield.
Basically the plan is to utilize Freddy Galvis, the Phillies' fantastic-defending, but mediocre-hitting infielder, as a super-utility guy, spelling the old guys once a week. In a 25-week season, this amounts to about 75 games, or approximately 300 PAs for Galvis, and 135-140 games or 500-600 PAs each for Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Michael Young.
As with last season, Galvis is projected to post a sub-.300 wOBA, but he still could provide value to the team in a couple ways. As I wrote last March:
It is pretty sensible to assume that a player would perform better when he's rested, but I wanted to quantify this so I went to Game Log data from FanGraphs. I calculated the OPS's of our three elderly infielders when they were playing in a game for the fourth consecutive day or more, as opposed to three consecutive or less. The results:
Unsurprisingly, you can see a difference of nearly 200 points of OPS when Chase Utley has regular rest and nearly 100 points for Jimmy Rollins. Michael Young actually performed better without rest in 2012, but he also played DH or 1B for many of those games. For a 36-year-old moving to a more demanding defensive position, I would not expect him to continue to hit as well without regular rest.
With regular rest, Jimmy Rollins hit like Justin Upton; without, he hit worse than Delmon Young. With regular rest, Chase Utley had a better OPS than Albert Pujols in 2012; without it, he hit more like Michael Young. Michael Young hit like Michael Young, and that is something we have to live with. Galvis, however, could make all of these veterans better.
Unfortunately, Galvis ended the 2012 season on less than ideal circumstances, and by "less than ideal", I mean with a serious back injury and a PED-related suspension. However, he appears to be over the injury, having posted an .783 OPS through 227 Venezuelan Winter League PAs. He figures to be worse than that against major league pitching, but we all know how fantastic he is with the glove. Besides, he should provide value beyond what he actually does with his glove and his bat.