Joey Gallo has shown he has the ability to play a number of places, but where does the Texas Rangers slugger fit best in the field.
Long thought to be a corner infielder, slugger Joey Gallo has played an array of positions for the Texas Rangers. From third and first to the outfield, Gallo has shown some flexibility defensively over the past couple of seasons for Texas. With Joey clearly a big part of the future in Arlington, the Rangers must find a solidified position for the 24-year old so he can develop to his defensive peak. The question is, where does Gallo fit best?
This is really just a baseline because Gallo has said he doesn’t like playing third base. Pair that with he fact that Texas has a number of young players who can play the position with above average defense, Gallo really won’t play third base again for Texas. No need to play him in a position he doesn’t like when you have Jurickson Profar and Isaiah Kiner-Falefa in their mid-20’s both of whom excel at the position. In 92 games at third for Texas, Gallo made 18 errors good for a .921 fielding percentage.
Behind third, first is probably the most natural position for Joey Gallo. With a large 6’5″ frame, Joey fits the profile of a big hitting first baseman that has become so prevalent in Major League Baseball today. While he’s played well at first, he isn’t necessarily an above average defense. In the same number of games at first that he’s played at third, Gallo has made just three errors and posts a .996 fielding percentage. While he makes the plays he’s supposed to, it’s hard to justify keeping Gallo at first when you have a player like Ronald Guzman who is an elite defensive first baseman. Joey can fill in at first when needed, but he’s not unseating Guzman as the long term option at first base for the Texas Rangers.
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Since Guzman has taken over duties at first, Joey Gallo has found most of his playing time come in left field for the Rangers. Not necessarily the easiest position to transition to, Rangers fans have seen Joey progress immensely in the outfield especially with his ability to track balls. The biggest knock on Joey Gallo in left field is his range which isn’t the best especially in a place like Globe Life Park where there’s a lot of outfield grass to be covered. In the 102 games Gallo has played in left, he’s only committed errors but his Defensive Runs Saved compared to the average was -1 in that time. While he’s definitely gotten better, evidenced by his highlight reel homerun robbery against the Yankees, Sunday, long-term this isn’t the best option for Gallo and the Rangers.
This one is a stretch. Gallo has only made 3 appearances in center field and while he is errorless, I find it hard to believe that Gallo can make it as a big league center fielder. His Defensive Runs Saved compared to the average is +1 but the sample size is so low it’s hard to draw a full conclusion. Yet again, Gallo’s range holds him back here some. Center field, like left field, has a lot of ground to cover at Globe Life Park and the Rangers would be better served using a speedy, defensive oriented player in center.
Besides center field, right field is the area where Gallo has spent the least amount of time. Despite this, it’s the position I think he’s made the biggest impression. In those 12 games he’s played in right field, Gallo has 5 outfield assists which has him tied for 5th in the AL among right fielders. Fifth in the AL while appearing in at least 65 fewer starts than those above him is stunning. He’s just 2 assists behind Nomar Mazara, Texas’ regular right fielder. His Defensive Runs Saved is 6 above the average considering the number of players made.
Obviously the Rangers have Nomar Mazara as their current right fielder, but while he’s been out with injury, Joey Gallo has done a stellar job filling in. If the Rangers can find a way to get him regular playing time in right, his arm could turn him into a top right fielder in baseball.