Gallo(ns) Of Talent
The fans in Arlington finally got their wish a few weeks ago when the Rangers called up top prospect Joey Gallo. Most bloggers, beat writers and various other media members were a bit shocked by the news and most predicted him to struggle. Debating about Gallo became a war with between the media/bloggers and the fans. It wasn’t pretty for a little while.
When Gallo shot out of the gate with a 3-4 debut in which he was just a triple shy of the cycle, the war intensified. Fans telling the media that they had no idea what they were talking about and that Joey Gallo belonged in the big leagues. That war didn’t really die down. Through the first 10 games of Gallo’s career, he gave everyone a reason to troll the local media members (extra base hits do not include his home runs).
For a guy who scouts often used phrases such as “needs more work”, “too many holes in his swing”, and “isn’t ready for big league pitching”, Gallo sure did put up the numbers to suggest otherwise. One of the interesting things that I noticed in these stats, is that of the six walks he has drawn, two of them were intentional. That’s quite the respect for a 21 year old rookie.
Once Gallo figures out big league pitching he should be able to work the gaps and create more extra base hits for himself. Giancarlo Stanton has done that and averages right around 30 doubles a season. If Gallo can eventually hit say something like .260 with 30 doubles and 30-40 home runs, you’ll take that all day.
He’s won over many fans with his offense and even won over some of the ladies with his old school walk up music – Pony by Ginuwine. Man, the 90’s were a great time for music.
Joey, buddy, what are you implying here, pal?!
Gallo homered in just his second big league at bat, a monster shot, then drilled a ball off the top of the wall in his third at bat for a double. Gallo appeared to be here to stay. Even given the small sample size, Gallo was on fire, I mean hell, he hit a BOMB off Clayton Kershaw in LA on June 17th. A bomb that was hit so far, it ended up being the second longest home run given up by Clayton Kershaw – in his career!
In fact, the home run and two RBI off Kershaw are Gallo’s only home run and RBI away from Arlington this season. He’s just 7-37 with 20 of his 31 strikeouts on the road this year. That is a .189 average in 10 games for those of you wondering. That’s not going to get it done, friends.
The Gallo hype train has cooled off a little bit recently – and for good reason. He has struggled defensively and his bat has been silenced. Part of that can be contributed to facing Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Chris Sale over a three game stretch. Two of those are probably the best lefties in the game and the other might just be the best right hander going right now. That is three potential Cy Young candidates he faced in a row. Nonetheless, his stats over the last 10 games (extra base hits do not include his home runs):
Gallo is a free swinger which is typical for a true power hitter (80 grade) with a current 35 out of a potential 45 grade hit tool. He swings at 47.1% of pitches he see’s which, if he would qualify, would put him about 84th in the league. That doesn’t seem that bad considering that the players with roughly the same swing rate are Buster Posey, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Donaldson.
Posey is the odd man out in this group because even though he swings quite a bit, he makes contact at rate of 88.4% while Cruz (71.2%) and Donaldson (76.6%), while not as high as Posey, are still far better than that of Gallo who is at 58.8%.
As a matter of fact, Gallo’s 58.8% contact rate ranks him 406th in the major leagues (min 50 plate appearances) – behind the recently unemployed Carlos Peguero. Ouch.
I have heard some folks even call Gallo a “true outcome” hitter meaning his at bats, more often than not, result in one of the three true at bat outcomes – strikeout, walk, or home run. Of his 81 plate appearances this season, he has a true outcome rate of 59%.
However, not all is lost with the big man. As I was researching and writing this piece, the great Robert Pike threw out this beauty of a stat:
Joey Gallo’s first 77 MLB plate appearances: .221/.312/.471, 31 SO, 5 HR Giancarlo Stanton’s first 76 MLB PA: .217/.276/.348, 30 SO, 2 HR
— Robert Pike (@Bob_Pike) June 24, 2015
If Gallo continues to follow the career path of that of Giancarlo Stanton, the Rangers and us fans are in for a real treat in the coming seasons. Stanton and Gallo have some other similarities in the fact that they far and away hit the ball harder than anyone else in the major leagues. Gallo leads all major league hitters (min 80 PA) with a Hard% (balls put in play that are classified hit with hard speed) of 52.6% while Stanton is right at 50%. The next closest player after that? 44.2% – Ryan Raburn (what?!).
The one thing that Gallo doesn’t have (yet) is the ability to go the opposite way. Stanton sits at 22.3 Oppo% while Gallo sits dead last in the majors with 0%. ZERO. That is something that he definitely will need to work on or teams will over-shift on him every at bat and it will become incredibly difficult to find some green grass. I have seen him do it in Frisco on many occasions so we know he can do it – he just needs to be able to do it at the highest level.
One big negative so far this year is that his defense has been sub-par. Many scouts speculated whether or not Gallo would stay at third base or make a transition to right field. Right field was projected because of his monster 70 grade arm (he touched 98 mph on the radar gun as a pitcher in high school). He’s committed five errors in just 41 chances so far for an .881 fielding percentage. To make matters even worse, FanGraphs tells us that Gallo has made just 85% of what are considered routine plays (90-100% probability) and just 85.7% of plays considered “likely” (60-90% probability). Despite those numbers, FanGraphs still has Gallo rated at a positive defender with a (.7) UZR and a (9.2) UZR/150. I would have to think that some of that is contributed to four of his five errors being of the throwing variety.
Don’t let his routes in the outfield discourage you either. The kid only had six career professional starts in the outfield before being called up. When we asked Gallo when the last time he played the outfield was, he said “I dunno, high school maybe?” Well, for Gallo, that wasn’t but about three or four years ago.
So fear not my friends, Gallo will be sent down but he can and will improve. It will likely be in AAA, but he will improve. I would anticipate Gallo being a candidate to go down once Hamilton is ready or sometime in the near future. There are other factors that will contribute to this decision, not just his performance. There is his Super 2 status, rookie eligibility, and the teams overall control of him.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Gallo’s time up in the bigs comes to an end, for now, sometime in the immediate future. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but he does need more work and I think Jon Daniels and company will give it to him. Gallo will be a big leaguer and a damn good one, it just may not at this very moment.
But what do I know, I’m just a blogger with a website. Glad I’m not the decision maker.