Which Joey Gallo Will the Texas Rangers See in 2019?
By Kenneth Nash
Last year was a tale of two season’s for Joey Gallo at the plate and the question in 2019 is, which Gallo will the Texas Rangers get?
Joey Gallo had about as split a season as a player could have at the plate in 2019. His ups and downs were well documented and noticed even in a season so poor as the Rangers one last year.
Tale of Two Seasons
The Texas Rangers slugger posted an abysmal first half of the season hitting just .187 and posting 132 strikeouts in just 93 games played. At the plate he look hapless struggling to battle against Major League pitching causing many, including myself, to question whether he had a role to play in the future of the organization.
Flash forward to the second half of the season and in 55 games, Gallo’s average posted an impressive .239 average and blasted 18 homeruns at a faster pace than he had in the first half of the season. Now his resurgence was due in part to an unreal month of August where Gallo hit .294 in 25 games bringing up his second half average noticeably. Still, even though his September/October average dipped, the Joey Gallo we saw late in the season looked much more confident at the plate and looked considerably less overmatched.
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So now, moving into 2019, which Joey Gallo will Texas Rangers fans see?
Why We’ll See An Improved Joey Gallo
All signs seem to point to a turn around for Joey Gallo in 2019. First off, the Texas Rangers are replacing last year’s hitting coach, Anthony Iapoce, who departed for the Chicago Cubs, next season. Iapoce played a big role in helping generate the power threat that the Texas Rangers became known for but it may have come at the price of disciplined hitting at some points. Without a doubt, the Rangers will be looking to adjust their approach at the plate a bit, striving for more productive at-bats rather than a series of all or nothing attempts.
Additionally, the steps Gallo took forward at the end of 2018 didn’t just look like those of a guy who happened to be swinging a hot bat. He genuinely seemed to have made adjustments to his approach and while he may have called back into old habits late, I’m inclined to believe those adjustments are the kind that will be nurtured and cemented in an offseason of practice.
Lastly, part of Joey Gallo finding his stride at the plate should and hopefully will come naturally as he continues to gain experience. While we’ve heard the name of Joey Gallo both as a highly touted prospect for the club and additionally over his first few years in the Majors, we need to remember that he just turned 25 years old less than a week ago. He’s only racked up 2 years of service time in the big leagues as well meaning he’s still in his growing stages when it comes to finding himself as a pro ballplayer.
Why It’ll Be Same Old, Same Old Next Season
While we can lean on his youth and inexperience as reasons why he still struggles to bat above the .200 mark each season, stats often don’t lie. While he has made some improvements at the plate, Gallo still hasn’t crossed a .210 batting average in his first two full seasons with the Rangers and saw his already sky high strikeout totals jump from 196 in 2017 to 207 in 2018 despite only playing 3 more games.
On top of stats, Gallo still struggles fundamentally with his swing. While his long, sweeping, powerful swing generates mammoth homeruns that can break MLB Statcast. They don’t translate to an approach at the plate that generates much else besides homeruns. It also limits him to being almost exclusively a pull hitter, the Astros mega shift used defensively against Gallo on Opening Day is evidence of that. The next step for Joey at the plate is being able to create shorter, inside out swings, that allow him to drive the ball to left field and that’s easier said than done.