If I were a seven-year-old kid going with my parents to one of my first Texas Rangers baseball games, certain things would make a huge impression on me. The droves of red, white or blue Rangers t-shirts and jerseys walking around me. The sound of all of the different vendors shouting to come over to buy a program or enter this or that contest. The smell of a million and one different food items. There are a ton of things that will stick out to any prospective young baseball fan. Unfortunately, not many of those are likely on the field.
There is one on-field event that probably would grab my attention as a seven-year-old at Globe Life Park: the pomp and circumstance of a Rangers home run.
It’s an unbeatable equation of excitement. The roar of the crowd once the ball clears the fence. The theme from “The Natural” coming loud and clear through the speakers. Finally, a bright and exhilarating display of fireworks out in center field.
No one has given Rangers fans, young and old, this treat more over the last season and a half than 24-year-old slugger Joey Gallo.
As of Saturday, July 21st, Gallo has belted 65 home runs since the start of the 2017 season. Only the superstars Giancarlo Stanton (82), Aaron Judge (77) and J.D. Martinez (74) have more dingers since the start of last season. Those three are likely MVP candidates on playoff-bound teams. Joey Gallo? Not so much.
At 41-57, the Rangers are about as close to the postseason as one of Gallo’s upper deck shots is to home plate. There are a lot of things wrong with this team. Terrible starting pitching. A lineup that very rarely seems to be clicking at the same time. An unfortunate amount of injuries to key players early in the season. Add it all together and you have a team that sits very comfortably in last place in its division.
Baseball is undoubtedly the team sport where one individual can carry the team the least, but without hesitation I would say that the Rangers could be so much better if they got more out of the bat of Joey Gallo. Manager Jeff Banister began the season penciling Gallo in at number two in the batting order. On paper it sounded great; an on-base/speedster like Delino DeShields Jr. batting leadoff and setting up Gallo to either drive him in plenty of times with a homer or drawing a walk to set the table up even better for higher average hitters like Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre or Nomar Mazara.
Unfortunately, injuries to the lineup combined with Gallo not performing well enough has jumbled the lineup more than anyone would have wanted. There’s no one to blame for the Nevada-native sitting in the 8th spot in the lineup lately other than Joey Gallo himself.
Batting average sure isn’t seen as important of a state as it used to be, but Gallo’s .190 average is simply unacceptable for an everyday player. It’s been well-chronicled during Rangers TV broadcasts that Gallo and Nomar Mazara are among the leaders in hits taken away by the dreaded shift.
Mazara is -15 hits overall, would raise his average to .314 (42 points). Gallo is -17 hits overall, would raise his average to .241 (54 points).
— CJ Nitkowski (@CJNitkowski) July 17, 2018
The argument for/against the shift isn’t happening here or now, but the argument that Gallo simply needs to swallow his pride and bunt more to get on base or make the adjustments to utilize the entire field more is definitely something that has to happen for the Rangers to feature Gallo in their long-term plans.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 21, 2018
Sure, the hashtag #JoeyJack is cool and fun to use. 472 foot game-tying home runs are equally awesome, but those types of moments just aren’t outweighing the seemingly constant strikeouts or the uninspiring line drives to the second baseman in shallow right field when literally an entire side of the field was open for Gallo to hit towards.
The current state of the team definitely plays in favor of Joey Gallo continuing to have a chance to develop. Sure they have some players with promise, but virtually none of them seem to be for-sure building blocks for the future due to their various flaws. At just 24 years old and not being able to reach free agency until the winter of 2023, the Rangers would do anything for the slugger to become the face of the next era of the franchise heading into Globe Life Field in 2020. His versatility as a defensive player who can play in the infield or in the outfield at an at least average level bodes well for his continued spot in the lineup. Players like Shin-Soo Choo and prospect Willie Calhoun have such problems with the glove that they will have to spend the majority of their time in the lineup as the designated hitter.
If this team were even sniffing the periphery of the American League playoff picture, maybe Jeff Banister would be less excited about putting Gallo in the lineup every single night. Unfortunately, the team’s present and future is murkier than it has been in a decade and they are desperate to find some long-term players. Joey Gallo needs to be one of those guys and he will continue to have every chance to develop.
Even with a .190 batting average in late July, Joey Gallo’s spot as an every day player for the Texas Rangers does not appear to be in any sort of jeopardy.
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