Texas Rangers: Maybe it’s time we temper our expectations for Joey Gallo

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 15: Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers reacts after being called out looking against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the fourth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 15, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 15: Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers reacts after being called out looking against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the fourth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 15, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Joey Gallo has flexed his muscles for the Texas Rangers in his first two big league seasons. But his strength is surrounded by various weaknesses at the plate.

There may not be a more perplexing player in Major League Baseball than Texas Rangers’ outfielder, Joey Gallo. He brings awe to fans through his extraordinary power; yet, frustration through his extreme all-or-nothing output at the plate. Frankly, no one really knows what to think of him.

Fans can’t stand Gallo’s inconsistency, but they also can’t stop rewinding their televisions every time he blasts a home run. He makes for awesome highlight reels, but he’s far from a polished hitter. The stat that is totally baffling is Gallo’s ZERO sacrifice flies in his 1,082 career at-bats. If he wants to be considered elite, or even good, he must at least slightly refine his game.

Joey Gallo’s own team doesn’t know what to think of him. That’s why his name is mentioned in trade rumors every so often. If the Rangers can’t wrap their head around his performance and potential, maybe another team can, and would therefore be willing to offer a nice return for him.

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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 /

In determining Gallo’s future, the Texas Rangers must answer two questions: Are his extreme highs enough to outweigh his extreme lows? And can his offensive ability advance to a new level? In other words, is there still potential for growth?

The former question seems to have already been answered. The slugger remains on the team, he plays everyday, and Texas greatly appreciates his power and his outstanding defense. He has absolutely proven to be a quality big leaguer.

But the Rangers want more than quality. They want Gallo to be one of the top hitters in the league. They want him to play a massive role in the organization’s return to success.

Numbers: 2017 vs. 2018

His first two big league seasons are quite similar. Stats indicate he was actually better offensively in 2017 than 2018.

2017:   .209 BA, 41 HRs, .333 OBP, .537 SLG, 80 RBI, 196 Ks

2018:   .206 BA, 40 HRs, .312 OBP, .498 SLG, 92 RBI, 207 Ks

Gallo’s walk rate was down 3.1% from 2017, but his strikeout rate was also down from ’17 by 0.9%. His chase rate increased; however, he covered more of the plate, showing improvements in contact percentage and O-Contact % (contact with balls swung at outside of the strike zone).

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Do these slight progressions and regressions mean much? It’s difficult to say. What I’m concerned about is the slightness in either direction.

Joey Gallo doesn’t seem to have the capability to make significant changes to his swing. He has a quick bat, but his swing is long and loopy. For someone who’s probably swung just about the same his entire life, it’s not realistic to expect him to flatten his bat path over a single offseason.

Plus, his performance could suffer alongside any drastic mechanical changes. Gallo hits home runs. That’s his thing. Flatten his swing and suddenly he won’t be hitting as many homers. He may hit for a higher average, but how much higher? He may cut down on his strikeouts, but by how much? Frankly, it may not be in the best interests of Gallo or the Rangers to make any drastic adjustments to his swing.

As much as we’d love to see Gallo hit 45 home runs with a .250 batting average, while striking out 150 times, that’s probably never going to happen. Though, perhaps he can work his way to 45 home runs, a .225 batting average and a 170 strikeout season.

Gallo may not be able to reach a new level, but he can certainly reach the pinnacle of his current level. Gradual improvement is okay for him. He’s already one of the top power hitters in Major League Baseball; therefore, any performance polishing will give the Texas Rangers an even stronger weapon.

Ultimately, it’s not batting average that he needs to improve upon. It’s his timeliness and plate approach. A power hitter like Gallo needs to drive in over 100 runs every season. He needs to find a way to do what he does best: elevate the ball when he’s up to bat with runners in scoring position. Sadly, he has not reached the triple digit RBI mark in his first two seasons.

dark. Next. Make or break year for these three Texas Rangers

Hopefully that changes in 2019. Hopefully Joey Gallo finally records a sacrifice fly! I’d be happy with 45 home runs, a .215 batting average and 110 RBI at the conclusion of the 2019 regular season. That’s the general stat line we should expect from Gallo for many seasons to come. A stat line that is obtainable, not far-fetched.