Texas Rangers

Production is one thing. But Rangers are missing Gallo’s big bat for other reasons

Rangers’ Allard had two choices Monday. He chose wisely

The Texas Rangers rallied for an 8-7 victory Monday despite trailing the Los Angeles Angels 7-1 after two innings. Starting pitcher Kolby Allard made a key recovery.
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The Texas Rangers rallied for an 8-7 victory Monday despite trailing the Los Angeles Angels 7-1 after two innings. Starting pitcher Kolby Allard made a key recovery.

Of course, the Texas Rangers miss having Joey Gallo in their lineup on a daily basis as he recovers from surgery on his left hand.

He spent the first half of the season among the MLB leaders in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.

His 22 home runs were still leading the team entering Monday even though he hasn’t played in nearly a month.

Gallo was a first-time All-Star, and he hit a solo home run that provided the winning margin in the American League’s 4-3 victory.

The Rangers were 9-14 without him as they opened a four-games-in-three-days series against the Los Angeles Angels, and were scoring almost a run less per game since he last played July 23.

It’s not just Gallo’s production that the Rangers are missing.

“He can do nothing and still provide value,” manager Chris Woodward said. “There’s just fear all around him. They know where he is at all times.”

Baseball types call that “presence.”

Gallo simply being in the lineup provides the hitters in front of him better pitches to hit because opposing pitchers would rather let someone else beat them. The hitters behind him have more chances to drive in runs because he is frequently on base.

He also lengthens the Rangers’ lineup. His absence has forced Woodward move up hitters who would be a spot or two lower in the lineup with Gallo healthy.

For instance, the .204-hitting Rougned Odor has batted fourth, fifth or sixth since the Gallo injury, but before it was batting sixth or seventh. He is batting .182 this month and is 0-for-15 with 12 strikeouts with runners in scoring position.

Odor has power and leads the team in RBIs, but he also leads in strikeouts and entered Monday on a 13-game streak with at least one K.

Gallo strikes out plenty, too, but he has been a more complete hitter this season. It took a 4-for-34 stretch to open the second half to drop his average to its current .253. His career average entering the season was .203.

The Rangers could use him as they try to shake out of their offensive inconsistencies. They scored scored at least six runs in three of their past five games and had at least nine hits in five straight entering Monday, but they were batting .216 in their past 13 games and were batting an MLB-worst .181 with runners in scoring position.

Without a big bat in the middle of the lineup, the Rangers aren’t making opposing pitchers sweat as much.

“There’s more pressure created all around when he’s in there,” Woodward said. “When you have a guy with that kind of ability and production, it’s tough to be without it.”

Having Gallo wouldn’t simply cure the Rangers’ offensive inconsistencies. Some of them are being caused by more complete scouting reports being used by opponents and Rangers hitters being slow to make adjustments.

The Rangers, though, expect Gallo to play again this season. He said that Sept. 1 is probably a bit too optimistic to return as he builds up strength after a July 25 operation to remove a broken hamate bone, but the next week might be a better target.

Gallo is on the road back, though still stuck in the slow lane. He has started swinging a bat lightly, hitting off a tee and throwing, but being unable to play is driving him crazy.

It’s a two-way street, as Gallo misses the Rangers, too.

“It’s pretty boring just having to watch the games,” Gallo said.

Amen.

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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