Texas Rangers: Making sense of Joey Gallo and honing in on 2019 expectations

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ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 04: Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers hits in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 4, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images) *** local caption *** Joey Gallo
ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 04: Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers hits in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 4, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images) *** local caption *** Joey Gallo /
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The Texas Rangers need Joey Gallo to take a step forward in 2019. He’s established himself as an elite home run hitter, but he needs to make better use of his extreme talent.

Is Joey Gallo a good player? There’s not a Texas Rangers fan out there that can answer that question without hesitation. Most of the time you’re rolling your eyes as he walks back to the dugout after yet another strikeout, but a sliver of the time you’re watching him round the bases with your jaw dropped to the floor. 100% of the time you’re tuning in to watch him hit because you know there’s a chance he crushes one 460 feet.

Gallo is an anomaly. He can hit a ball harder than anyone, farther than anyone, and higher than anyone. He hits the ball on the ground so infrequently that opponents are willing to forgo an infield position and defend him with a four-man outfield.

It’s difficult to say whether Gallo is a sabermetrical dream or nightmare. His launch angle is as extreme as there is in baseball and he is the epitome of a Three True Outcome hitter (home runs, strikeouts and walks). Sometimes players like him are great for baseball and sometimes players like him are bad for baseball.

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ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 03: Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers hits for an RBI double in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 3, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

But what kind of player is he for the Texas Rangers? Better yet, what kind of player will he become?

What a weird year he had for Texas in 2018. His .206 batting average ranked 140th among qualifiers. That’s second to last in MLB, ahead only of ex-Ranger, Chris Davis. Gallo’s 40 home runs were third most in MLB, behind J.D. Martinez (43) and Khris Davis (48). His 92 RBI were by far the most on the Rangers and 24th most in baseball, and his 74 walks ranked 26th. Lastly, his 103 hits ranked 170th in MLB. To put that number in perspective, Gallo had just two more hits than Elvis Andrus, who played in 51 fewer games.

Gallo was all over the place!

He can hit 40 home runs every year for the rest of his career, but it would be great for him and the Rangers if he could become at least a little more well-rounded at the plate. It’s unrealistic to expect Joey Gallo to become a .300 hitter, or even a .275 hitter. But how about a .240 hitter? A higher batting average means more balls in play and more balls in play means more home runs.

An improved batting average would be nice, but Gallo could improve in other ways as well. He needs to be better in run scoring opportunities. While that’s not something he can do at the snap of his fingers, it is a part of his game that needs to improve if he wants to be a middle of the order bat. We’re talking about a guy who has yet to record a sacrifice fly in his MLB career! That just doesn’t make since considering he hits an absurd amount of flyballs.

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In addition, Gallo hits too many solo home runs. It’s not so simple as picking better times to hit home runs, but the top hitters in the game find ways to drive runners in. Whether that means hitting the ball over the fence, in the gap, or up the middle. For Gallo to hit 40 home runs and record less than 100 RBI…he can do better.

Comparing him to the other two players who hit 40 or more home runs…J.D. Martinez drove in 130 runs and Khris Davis drove in 123 runs. Those two led baseball in RBI this season.

Simply put, Joey Gallo has plenty of room for improvement. That’s scary considering he is already one of the most intimidating hitters in the game. He has the plate discipline and he has the power. He just needs to be more consistent in RBI opportunities and he needs to cut down on strikeouts at least 20%.

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If he can do those two things, the Texas Rangers can then afford him a routine role as the team’s cleanup hitter. Come 2019, it’s time Joey Gallo becomes a player that the lineup is built around.

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