Joey Gallo Is Having a Historically Weird Season
Baseball has seen its share of low batting average, big-power guys before. But no one has ever done it the way the Texas Rangers outfielder/infielder Joey Gallo has done it so far this season. Gallo hit another blast on Wednesday night, his 35th, putting him on pace to easily clear the 40-homer barrier in his first full season in the Majors.
When Gallo hits them, they make some noise.
No. 35 for @JoeyGallo24, and they’ve all been colossal. pic.twitter.com/CvwfC6Vczs
— MLB (@MLB) August 17, 2017
However, Gallo has one of the weirdest slash lines in baseball. In 394 plate appearances, he's batting .211/.327/.577, to go with those 35 dingers, 65 RBIs, and 66 runs scored. His 35 bombs tie him for third with Mike Moustakas, and put him behind Aaron Judge (37) and the incredible Giancarlo Stanton (44).
Despite having a batting average that is creeping near the Mendoza line and a strikeout rate of 37.1% that's the highest among all qualified batters in baseball, Gallo has still been worth 3.0 fWAR this season, thanks to a high walk rate of 13.2% that's tied for 21st-best among 159 qualified Major Leaguers.
Even if Gallo doesn't hit another home run this season, he will have done something that only two other players have accomplished in Major League history. Here is a list of free swingers who have hit at least 35 home runs in a season with a batting average lower than .220.
|Adam Dunn||White Sox||2012||.204||41||.333||.468||222|
|Tony Armas||Red Sox||1983||.218||36||.254||.453||131|
Only one of the players above had a 40+ homer, sub-.220 batting average season, that being Adam Dunn. And no player in the history of baseball has had a season in which they hit 35 homers, batted under .220, and posted a slugging percentage over .500.
Gallo would be the first.
Gallo is walking proof that batting average is a flawed statistic. His on-base percentage, while not great, is right around league average. Gallo strikes out a ton, but he also walks a ton, which makes up for the lack of base hits. And he provides elite power, which further compensates for the lack of singles and doubles. In fact, Gallo has more homers (35) than he does singles (20) and doubles (14) combined.
With his 35th home run on Wednesday night, Gallo now has an OPS of .905. No player in Major League history (with enough at bats to qualify for the batting title) has ever had a batting average below .215 and an OPS over .900. It's almost impossible to do.
There are some who will criticize his game because of his inability to get more base hits. But as long as he's hitting enough homers and racking up the walks, he will be one of the more productive, and unique, hitters in baseball.