Think about all of the baseball games that have been played at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. Yeah, I know it’s not the most historic stadium in the world, but it’s coming up on 25 seasons old and has hosted a pair of World Series’.
With a multitude of sluggers having graced its diamond, Globe Life has seen some monstrous home runs. Between Nelson Cruz, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Adrian Beltre, moonshots have abounded in Arlington. Last Tuesday, Joey Gallo did something that Globe Life has never seen before.
You know that lawn out in center field? The one that hundreds of home runs have landed on? Yeah, Joey Gallo hit it over that lawn.
Way over that lawn.
Roof shot! UNREAL! pic.twitter.com/YC24xYN2k0
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) August 2, 2017
Now, I don’t watch the Rangers a whole lot, but I’ve never seen a ball hit over that lawn. Statcast measured Gallo’s moonshot at 456 feet, but I’m not buying it. I’d be willing to bet that this baseball was hit further than any in Globe Life Park or Rangers history.
Statcast probably broke trying to track this bomb.
Ranger fans have long been teased by Joey Gallo’s name. He’s been touted as Adrian Beltre’s heir ever since he was drafted 39th overall in 2012’s supplemental 1st round. His power is the stuff of legends, with ESPN giving it an 80 on his draft report and Baseball America reporting that he hit the 10th longest home run in Petco Park history while playing in a high school showcase with a wood bat.
The only question about Gallo at time time of his drafting was that while the power and arm tools were both incredible, his hit tool was concerning. The question of whether or not he could make consistent enough contact to truly take advantage of his power caused him to slide down to Texas’ first round supplemental pick at 39th overall.
Well, 5 years later, Gallo has answered questions about his power and contact abilities in an extreme way.
At the time of writing, Gallo has hit 32 home runs and out of the eight hitters who have topped 30 bombs already in 2017, Gallo’s 381 plate appearances are the fewest. He has a chance to become only the 5th player to hit 40 home runs in 500 or fewer plate appearances.
Also at the time of writing, Joey Gallo is sporting a .206 batting average and 143 strikeouts. Combine that with his slugging profile and you not only have one of the most extreme hitters of 2017, but possibly the most extreme hitter of all time.
In a season where home runs and strikeouts are at an all time high, Joey Gallo is leading the way and producing a season unlike any we have ever seen before. The deeper into the numbers you dig, the more and more amazing he gets.
Gallo has a chance to become the first player ever to post a full season with a sub .200 batting average, 30 home runs, and an OPS above .800. That alone would be amazing, but it’s only part of what makes Joey Gallo’s 2017 so remarkable.
Major League Baseball has set a new record for most total strikeouts in a single season every year since 2008. 2017 is on pace to break that record once again and Gallo is a main contributor.
His 37.5% strikeout rate would be a full season Major League record and he’s coming for Mark Reynolds’ single season strikeout record of 223 with vengeance in his eyes. Combined with that, Gallo’s 20 singles are easily the fewest in Major League baseball this season and that number is on pace to be the lowest single season total in the live ball era.
Gallo doesn’t make consistent contact, but when he does, it goes in the air. His ground ball to fly ball ratio of 0.43 is the 3rd lowest mark in single season Major League history, meaning that his batted balls are just about always hit in the air. The average launch angle on 2017 Joey Gallo home runs is 30.4 degrees, easily the highest among players with at least 30 round trippers.
Launch angle proprietors, meet your poster child.
But Joey Gallo isn’t just out here hitting soft infield pop ups and cans of corn, his hard contact percentage on balls put in play is 2017’s 4th highest mark at 45.4% and puts him 16th on the all time single season list. And, just for good measure, Gallo hit a home run at 116.3 MPH, an exit velocity that only Aaron Judge has been able to top in the Statcast era.
So, what we know about Joey Gallo so far is that the has an extreme contact to non contact profile. He is striking out at an all time rate, yet producing hard contact when he puts bat on ball. The balls he makes contact on are consistently going in the air and then over the fence at an all time rate.
That’s not all that Joey Gallo does, though. Combined with all the strikeouts and home runs is a 12.9% walk rate. Strikeouts, walks and home runs are considered the “three true outcomes” of baseball, and Gallo’s three true outcome percentage of 58.8% is on pace to be an all time single season high.
Now, if you’re an older baseball fan who grew up watching an era of players who desperately tried to avoid strikeouts at all costs and believed that a .300 average was the benchmark of greatness, you probably hate Joey Gallo because of his extreme profile.
But, all of Gallo’s offensive exploits have come together to produce a well above average hitter and player. At 124 wRC+, Gallo is 24% better than league average as a hitter. Combine that with solid defense, outstanding base running (Gallo’s 6.4 Fangraphs BsR ranks 3rd in all of Major League Baseball for 2017), and you’ve got yourself about a 4 WAR player.
Joey Gallo’s record breaking 2017 season will go down as one of the most unique and incredible in the history of the game. It might also be one of the most influential seasons in history because it’s making us pose an important question in today’s day and age of baseball.
How much does making consistent contact really matter?
If Joey Gallo can strike out at an all time rate, set a new single season low for 1 base hits, yet still produce a well above average offensive profile and be a 4 WAR player, why does hitting for high average and making consistent contact matter anymore?
Another question for another day…
Thanks for reading.