Joey Gallo Is Doing Some Weird Things This Year
It's basically impossible to replace the on-field production and overall presence of Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who's still waiting to make his 2017 debut because of a calf injury. But in his absence, Joey Gallo is doing everything he can to make up for that gap in the every-day lineup.
And, you know what? After two cups of coffee in the big leagues over the past couple seasons, the 23-year-old slugger has been a positive contributor to manager Jeff Banister's squad.
Despite a .213 BABIP and a 38.9% strikeout rate, he's produced an above-average 113 wRC+, .343 wOBA, 12.7% walk rate and a 1.1 fWAR. This has mostly been powered by the 12 home runs he's collected through 157 plate appearances.
We're not joking, either -- without all those homers, this would be quite a different article.
Homers, Walks, Strikeouts...And That's About it
For someone of Gallo's stature, the most attractive part of his offensive game is his power. It becomes even more attractive when we look at both his 46.6% hard-hit rate (top 10 in baseball) and 60.3% fly-ball rate (top five in baseball). When combining that with a home venue like the hitter-friendly Globe Life Park, he provides the kind of elite power that could be the backbone of any offense, whether we're talking about real life or fantasy baseball.
He's certainly doing it in his own way, though.
As noted by Jeff Sullivan in a recent FanGraphs article, there has been a rise like we've never seen before in the Three True Outcomes. This is when a hitter either strikes out, draws a walk, or hits a home run.
Gallo is very good at this.
As noted earlier, he's already slugged 12 homers, which accounts for 48.0% of his total hits (25) so far this season. That's also accompanied by that 12.7% walk rate and 38.9% strikeout rate we also mentioned earlier. And it used to be worse!
The last time he saw significant playing time in the big leagues was 2015, accumulating 123 plate appearances as a rookie. His 6 homers accounted for 37.5% of his total hits, while he also produced a 12.2% walk rate and eye-popping -- in the bad way -- 46.3% strikeout rate.
With regular playing time this season due to Beltre's stint on the disabled list, he's produced some solid stats, but a very weird .187/.306/.500 triple slash that would be in a league of its own if he keeps it up.
How rare is this kind of triple slash? So rare that we haven't seen anything like it since 2002.
Yes, this seems like a random year, but that's how far back FanGraphs' Splits Leaderboard goes for us to find this kind of performance. When looking for hitters with a batting average under .200, an on-base percentage over .300, and a slugging percentage above .500 in a single season with at least 200 plate appearances, our search came up empty.
So, if Gallo kept his current performance up for the next few months -- and he continues to stick in the big leagues -- the infielder could be on his way to creating a whole new club.
When changing the parameters a bit, we did find some company for Gallo, because nobody likes being all alone.
Since 2002, there have been 9 different instances (8 players) to accumulate 200-plus plate appearances and post a batting average below .200 with at least 20 homers to their name. The person who leads the way in homers amongst this group is Mark Reynolds, who appears on this list twice. However, the season we're looking at is his 2010 campaign with the Arizona Diamondbacks, when he launched 32 dingers with a .198 average.
When looking across the statistics of each player in this group, Gallo's numbers could truly stand out by September. Not only would his current triple slash be unique, but he's on pace to have the most homers, along with the highest walk rate, strikeout rate, ISO, wOBA and wRC+.
There's still a lot of season left to be played, but did you ever think there would be a legitimate chance we'd see a player with an OPS over .800 and an above-average wOBA and wRC+ despite a triple slash like the one Gallo has produced at this point?
As the game continues moving toward the Three True Outcomes at the plate on seemingly a nightly basis, Gallo is the poster boy for the movement, whether he likes it or not. And if he continues on his current pace, he'll have no choice in the matter.