ARLINGTON,without going out of the park. That is quite a shift for the 6-foot-5 slugger who homered in the only pitch he’s faced in an and got to 100 career homers quicker than any player in American League history at a time when he had only 93 singles. Gallo reached base in each of his first 15 games this season, his only homer being an impressive 450-foot drive to center in the at Kansas City. His other ten hits were all singles, and he had an MLB-high 15 walks. He got on three times when hit by a pitch and was the only Texas base runner in the game where Joe Musgrove plunked him while throwing the first no-hitter in Padres history.
“When I was younger, I thought it was cool to. And then I remember everyone’s just kind of like bashing me, saying I’m the worst 40 home run hitter,” said Gallo, 27. “And I was like, all right, I guess it’s not cool to hit 40 home runs. It’s something that I don’t focus on anymore. But I think it’s cool that I’m doing the opposite of what I’m known for.”
Gallo had 40 homers in the first two full big-league seasons (2017-18), but he hit only .208 overall, with 127 of his 197 hits being for extra bases. His .453 on-base percentage thiswas seventh in the majors going into Monday night’s game at the Los Angeles Angels, even while hitting .239 (103rd out of 178 qualified batters) with a .304 slugging percentage (143rd).
Theon-base streak to start a season was Ian Kinsler at 25 games in 2008. The only longer active on-base bars were San Diego’s Manny Machado and Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at 16 after extending their Sunday when Gallo had his first day of this .
“If he’s still able to get on base at almost a 50% clip, that speaks volumes of what this guy is as a hitter right now,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s not even hitting homers, and they’re still walking him.”
Opposing teams also employ drastic defensive shifts against the left-handed slugger, who has gotten used to “people running around crazy” when he’s at the plate.used an alignment with five defenders in the outfield, and Gallo beat that with a bloop single up the middle.
“You have to come up with a counter approach for it. I wasn’t going to be able to hit a double or a ball in the gap,” he said. “So I had to hit the ball on the ground. I had to hit bloopers, work the count, and try to walk or hit it over the fence. … It was either kind of singles, a walk, or a home run approach.”
Woodward knows Gallo will eventually have to hit more homers, and the manager has full faith that “he will because he has a ton of power.” Gallo homered in five of his first 14 at-bats this. But Woodward doesn’t want Gallo stressing out about trying to go deep to the point that he starts pulling off pitches or chasing them.
“Which will lead to less on base at the end and maybe hit a few more homers. But saying that, like, that’s not going to help us,” Woodward said. “When Joey gets hot, they tend to come in bunches. He hits the ball in the air, and it doesn’t usuallyoff his barrel. So right now, he’s staying patient.”
When Gallo hit his 100thin his 377th game on May 8, 2019, he was the first MLB player to reach that mark with fewer than 100 singles. That was in his injury-shortened All-Star season when he hit .253 with 22 homers in 70 games.
During last year’s pandemic-altered season, Gallo‘s .181 batting average was the second-lowest among 142 qualifiers. The right fielder hit ten homers in 57 games andGlove for the first time.
“I know I’m more than a home run hitter,” he said. “I can hit singles; I can get on base. Besides hitting home runs, I can still do other things on the field and help the. That’s really what matters.”
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