By: Noah Wright
Entering the season, Joey Gallo didn’t really have that high of expectations. Hit barely above the mendoza line, draw a decent amount of walks, play some solid defense and crush the ball at superhuman rates. Really, the only flaw Gallo had was the fact he pulled the ball all the time, and his average always hovered around the mendoza line. However, he’s perfected something that has taken him to the next level. After 2 full MLB seasons, Joey Gallo has finally figured out how to hit for some batting average.
Now to start, it’s kind of strange that Gallo’s batting average has taken such a large jump since the lefty slugger he hasn’t made that many changes to his game. Right now, he has an insane pull percentage of 53.9%, and is only going oppo 16.9%. His flyball rate has decreased, while his groundball rate has increased. It’s kind of strange to see him have such a large pull %, more ground balls, and yet still have a .277 batting average and .378 BABIP. It’s all the more impressive yet strange considering Gallo is shifted on all the time, and if he pulls a ground ball to the left side, it’s usually an out.
However, you have to go deeper to see why his batting average and BABIP has taken the jump it has. Fangraphs states that Gallo has a hard hit percentage of 57.7% of the time. He rarely makes soft contact, having a 10% soft hit %. That hard hit percentage leads the entire MLB by a 2.1% margin. His hard hit % is a career high. Gallo has also seen a large uptick in exit velocity. Last year, his average exit velo was 93.9 MPH. This season, it is 96.1 MPH. Another thing that is in Gallo’s favor is his plate discipline. Gallo is being a lot more selective with pitches in 2019. He’s swinging at less balls outside of the strike zone. The Rangers’ slugger hitting more line drives could also contribute to his improved BA and BABIP since he isn’t popping up the ball as often. Gallo has made more contact this season as well. A large amount of this improvement from Joey Gallo might be from his small change in batting stance and his swing. If you compare videos from Gallo in 2018 to videos of Gallo in 2019, you can see he has made a few tweaks to his stance. He is more compact now in the box, and has less of a leg kick when he swings.
The few changes Joey Gallo have made have really improved his game. He’s basically taken the nothing out of his all or nothing swing, while keeping the power of his swing. It’s become more efficient for him and the Rangers in the long run. If he can keep up an average around .270-.275, he will be worth more, and bring back more in a trade, or he could earn in an extension (and we all know how common extensions are nowadays).