Joey Gallo has emerged as a very good outfielder for the Texas Rangers. Good enough to where outfield could become his career position.
What is this? An article about Joey Gallo, but not about his bat? It’s about time someone talks about what he is doing on the defensive side of the ball. Yes, he’s been swinging a hot bat since the All-Star break, but he’s also fielding with a hot glove and throwing with a hot arm. Gallo has been dominating in the Texas Rangers outfield.
His defensive situation is quite comical when you think about it. The Rangers initially moved Gallo to the outfield to make room for Ronald Guzman at first base. Guzman was called up to the big leagues on April 13th. The two basically split time at first base for the first few weeks Guzman was up with the team. When Gallo didn’t play first, he would play left field.
Then, third baseman Adrian Beltre got hurt and missed 13 games between the end of April and the beginning of May. It was assumed Gallo would fill in for Beltre at third base; however, a player by the name of Isiah Kiner-Falefa happened to be up with the team to fill the void left by Elvis Andrus (Andrus injured himself on April 11th and missed over two months). While Beltre and Andrus were out, Kiner-Falefa was the primary third baseman and Jurickson Profar was the primary shortstop. Gallo never filled in at third. As a matter of fact, Gallo has not played a single game at third base this season.
Thanks to a lengthy game of Musical Chairs, Joey Gallo became a full-time outfielder. He was tossed out there to make room for other players. All the Texas Rangers cared about was getting his bat in the lineup. Gallo is an athletic player. The Rangers knew he could hold his own in the outfield and they could live with a few mistakes as long as he kept hitting the ball over the fence.
Ironically, what began as a “need him in the lineup” position situation, suddenly became a “need him in the outfield” position situation. Gallo has now made 27 consecutive starts in the outfield. He transitioned from left field to right field while Nomar Mazara has been out and has done an outstanding job. Altogether, 71 of Gallo’s 103 starts this season have been made in either left, center, or right field.
It’s nice that he has found a home in the outfield, but just how good is he out there compared to other MLB outfielders. Gallo’s two outfield errors equal that of now Cleveland Indians’ outfielder, Leonys Martin. Martin has started just five more games in the outfield this year than Gallo. Furthermore, Gallo has fewer errors than other notable outfielders, specifically Lorenzo Cain, Jason Heyward and Yasiel Puig.
What stands out more than anything, however, is Gallo’s eight outfield assists. The number ties him for 7th most in all of MLB. Remarkably, the man best known for his bat has five outfield assists since the All-Star break.
Critics will argue to the end of time that Joey Gallo is a one-tool player. Those critics are either too hard-headed to accept the truth, or they never actually watch the Texas Rangers play. From the perspective of an avid watcher, Gallo seems to be at least a three-tool player. His power, his arm, and his glove qualify. And not to be overlooked is his speed. For a 6’5”, 235 LB. human being, Gallo runs pretty well. His big strides cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Outfield is meant more so for speed than it is quickness; thus, it suits Gallo’s game.
It goes without saying…if Gallo can someday master the tool of contact then the sky is the limit for his overall production. Oh, and enough with the Adam Dunn comparisons. It kinda/sorta makes sense from an offensive standpoint, but Gallo is far more valuable than Dunn when you take defense into account.
Time will tell how he fits into the Rangers’ long-term defensive plans. Heck, it’ll be interesting how the team uses him in a week, the time in which Nomar Mazara is expected to return. Ultimately, Joey Gallo has become a legitimate major league outfielder. The idea of him being a career outfielder is no longer comical. Rather, it’s probable.