Texas Rangers

Gallo at the plate for Rangers in 2018: Good offensive season or just offensive?

Joey Gallo believes he is having a good season, despite his low batting average and high strikeout totals, because of how he has felt at the plate while matching some of his 2017 numbers.
Joey Gallo believes he is having a good season, despite his low batting average and high strikeout totals, because of how he has felt at the plate while matching some of his 2017 numbers. The Associated Press

Joey Gallo could reach 200 strikeouts by the end of the Texas Rangers’ road trip this weekend, and his batting average could dip below .200 by the end of the season.

He could also post a second consecutive 40-homer season and collect 100 RBIs for the first time.

And there’s the rub for some across baseball, who have labeled Gallo as the poster child for all that’s wrong with offenses and the quality of games these days.

Hitters like Gallo aren’t putting the ball in play much as they swing, and frequently miss, for the fences. When Gallo does put one in play, it seems to always be into one of the many defensive shifts opponents deploy against him.

And, lord almighty, why can’t he hit the ball the other way or drop a bunt?

Yet, today’s baseball says that Gallo is having a quality season because his OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) is over .800 and in the top 30 in the American League.

He’s also doing what the Rangers want from him.

As the games wind down on the 2018 season — the Rangers played No. 145 on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels — enough evidence exits for the Rangers to rule on Gallo’s season.

Their verdict: It has been a success.

“Traditionally you look at the batting average,” manager Jeff Banister said. “I look up at the OPS, and he’s over .800. The home-run numbers, the walk totals are starting to get back up there in a substantial spot. The RBIs are starting to show up for him.

“He’s put together another solid second half. If he continues on this pace, you’ve got to look at and say it’s as a positive way to end the season. There are some positives in the offensive side of it.”

Gallo drove in three runs Monday in a 5-2 victory with a two-run double and a single to push his RBI total to 85. He hit his 35th homer of the season over the weekend at Oakland.

His average after going 2 for 3 with a walk was .210, which is a point higher than where he finished last season. His on-base percentage is down 18 points from .333 last season and his slugging percentage is down 44 points from .537.

But the 2018 numbers are nothing to sneeze at.

“For a power guy, those are solid numbers,” Banister said. “You’d like for a guy continue to match his numbers. There’s always going to be a little fluctuation from year to year. We see improvements in the batter’s box just with the approach, and he continues to solidify that approach.”

To Banister’s point, since the All-Star break Gallo isn’t chasing as many pitches out of the strike zone and is putting the ball in play more. He entered Tuesday with a .261 second-half batting average, a .364 on-base percentage and a .606 slugging percentage for a .970 OPS.

That’s 12th in the league, and he has cut his strikeout rate from 41 percent to 33 percent.

Gallo has no doubt in his mind that his season has been a success.

“Yeah,” he said. “Hell, yeah.”

Gallo, who doesn’t turn 25 until November, thought he would have trouble approaching the numbers he posted last season. While a few of them are down, some of them have improved or have a chance to improve before the season ends Sept. 30.

That’s the result of how he feels each time he comes to the plate and what is going on between the ears.

“Number-wise, as of right now I’m matching what I did last year, which I thought was going to be really, really hard,” Gallo said. “It has been really, really hard. I’m playing five different positions and showing that I’m not just a big slouch. I feel like I’m improving against lefties. With two strikes I’m starting to do better. I’m feeling better at the plate than I did last year, where I feel like I’m in every at-bat and when things don’t go my way, I’m not beating myself up.”

At some point, Gallo learned to relax some. He doesn’t let the people who rip him for his strikeout totals and low batting average bog him down any longer.

“People just look at numbers, numbers, numbers, but sometimes it’s not the numbers that have to be there,” Gallo said. “Mentally you have to be there, and if you have a bad game you have to learn from it. The maturity side for me has been very good.

“It sucks. I used to beat myself up over those people and try to make them like me. But I realized they’re never going to like me. I bring something different to the team that most people can’t do. I’m a unique player, and I have to own that.”

Hey, he doesn’t like the strikeouts either.

“I’m going to strike out,” he said. “But I can always get better. Trust me, some people are like, ‘Stop beating yourself up, it’s just a strikeout. Who cares?’ I don’t like striking out. I’m trying to get better at it.”

The Rangers see the work each day. They see the improvement. They are seeing Gallo put together a good offensive season.

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