Offensive Stylings: Choosing Profar over Gallo
It’s been 23 days since the power phenomenon Joey Gallo was recalled from Triple-A, while Shin-Soo Choo and Drew Stubbs went on the disabled list with, as hockey aficionados would say, “lower body injuries.” He was with the club for 5 days. He made one pinch-hit appearance, not recording a hit. Gallo was optioned back to Triple-A when Yu Darvish returned to the active roster.
It has been 19 days since former Number One Prospect in All of Baseball Jurickson Profar was recalled from Triple-A, as Rougned Odor began his suspension and Shawn Tolleson going on the Emergency Leave list. In the same 5 game span, Profar went 8-for-23, scored 6 runs, smacked a homer, drove one in, and slashed .348/.348/.565. Profar is still here. He’s also played second, short, first and third.
Why was Profar afforded chances that Gallo wasn’t? There’s one obvious answer and a couple of not-so-obvious answers.
When Gallo was brought up, there wasn’t an immediate need for his presence. The emergence of Nomar Mazara, combined with the continued threat of Ryan Rua, rendered a need for Gallo in the outfield to a luxury. Adrian Beltre was still healthy, and Jeff Banister was determined to let Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder play their way out of their slumps for the time being.
Profar’s call-up was a direct product of the Odor suspension. Incumbent utility man Hanser Alberto couldn’t play two positions at once, and who knows when that need would come in the subsequent seven days? With Profar rocking a .284/.356/.426 slash and showing that his shoulder could handle the rigors of full game action, bringing him up made complete sense.
However, it was just a couple of weeks after Gallo was sent down again that the “unplugging” of Fielder and Moreland commenced. Nothing changed in their production from the time that Gallo had arrived and Odor returned; their seasons had both been spiraling out of control from the start of the season.
Why couldn’t Moreland and Fielder have unplugged just a little earlier? Why didn’t Gallo see any playing time?
The argument that he didn’t have a lot of experience at first base went out the window the minute that Profar borrowed Rua’s mitt on June 7th against Houston. Gallo at least had played eight professional games at first base. Profar got the literal equivalent of a crash course at the position the day prior, proving every bit as capable as the existing first basemen on the active roster.
OFFENSIVE APPROACH – INDIVIDUAL
This is where I think Profar has the edge over Gallo. It’s not that Gallo hasn’t improved his approach. With him, he comes to a new level and scuffles before making adjustments allowing him to rake. When he made the jump to Frisco in 2014, he played 68 games and slashed .232/.334/.524. His K/BB was 3.19 with a staggering 115 strikeouts in 250 at-bats. Gallo came back next year, bumping the slash to .314/.425/.636 and dropping his K/BB to a more palatable 2.04. The same happened when he moved to Round Rock: first foray .195/.289/.450, K/BB of 3.33, whereas this year, he’s rolling with a .277/.422/.635 with a 1.32 K/BB.
Meanwhile, if you go look at Profar’s minor league stats from year to year, even if you discount the two years he missed, the slash lines are more consistent. It took less time for Profar to make adjustments to the next league. Put another way, Profar didn’t have to make as many adjustments as Gallo did when he moved up.
Given the Rangers’ position at the time, the club was looking for a boost offensively from the first base and designated hitter position. For those of you that said, “Gallo can’t be any worse than Moreland or Fielder,” that’s kind of the problem. Why have Gallo face Major League pitching for five games, struggle as he adjusts, then go back down and have to re-adjust? When Profar came up for Odor, he hit the ground running. If Profar struggled during that week, I have serious doubts that the experiment at first base would have ever taken place. Gallo and Profar were a wash defensively at first base. Offensively, though? Profar was exactly the upgrade Texas was looking for.
OFFENSIVE APPROACH – TEAM
I get it, 450-500 foot bombs are extraordinarily attractive. They provide memorable calls, potentially ridiculous bat-flips, and take all the drama out of hoping it clears the wall. They all count the same, though. Five-hundred foot homers don’t count for two runs in the score book (can you imagine steroid use if that were the case?). If you’ve got a team like the Rangers that can score runs in a plethora of other ways, then doesn’t that beat scoring with just one way?
The Rangers are third in the AL in runs scored, sixth in all of baseball. They’re fifth in the AL in home runs, ninth in all of baseball. They have the fourth lowest strikeout total in the AL, fifth in baseball, but they also have the second lowest walk total in the AL. They lead the league in sacrifice flies. Their average with Runners in Scoring Position is a lofty .286. What am I getting at here?
This team could easily have gone the Gallo approach, banking on home run power to score runs. This is also known as the Baltimore Orioles approach, as Showalter’s birds have 102 entering play on Thursday, but also a fun 15 runs fewer than Texas. Texas does a great job of getting batters on base for the rest of the team to drive them in, not just by way of the long ball. It’s a team that’s still productive and winning, even with Fielder and Moreland being black holes in the lineup. Odor, the second baseman, leads the team in home runs, and that’s just at 12. The major league leaders have 20; there are fifty players with more homers than Odor. This franchise doesn’t have to rely on power hitters anymore. That’s not their game. They don’t have to play and hope for the three run jimmy jack. This is a team that can score in a multitude of different ways, but getting people on base is the key to all of it.
Can Joey Gallo be a part of that eventually? Undoubtedly.
But Profar can be and is a part of it now.