When it comes down to it, the biggest beneficiary of this grand technological metamorphosis the Rangers are undertaking, where they are breaking down swings and using data to remold players, might just be Joey Gallo.
He has the most to gain. Maybe a better way to look at it is, he has the most room for improvement. This spring, every Joey Gallo at-bat is a lab experiment.
What is he able to do with two-strikes? Has he learned to go the other way? Is he laying off pitches? How is his approach?
Eric Nadel and Matt Hicks talked about it during the Rangers first spring training game, about the incredible lengths the coaching staff and Gallo are going through to remake Gallo.
It’s no secret the guy has damaging power. While hitting 20 home runs in the major leagues used to be special, so many players did it in 2018 that it’s table stakes. But a 40-home-run season is still pretty unique. Yet, when Gallo gets nearly 600 plate appearances a year, he has to have more than just 40 noteworthy ones.
In an article in the Dallas Morning News, Evan Grant pointed out just how abysmal Gallo is with two strikes. It’s historically bad. Grant notes: “Over the 30 years that the stat has been tracked, Gallo’s batting average is the second lowest among the 1,417 players with at least 300 plate appearances that have extended to two strikes. His OPS is 24th lowest.”
Of course, any hitter with two strikes on him is in a difficult situation. Gallo takes that further. He is hopeless. He is hitting .090 with two strikes. Yikes.
The Rangers are trying to fix that. If they can tap into his beast mode, they will have created a monster. With Beltre gone, the Rangers need Gallo to be a legitimate middle-of-the-lineup threat instead of the bottom-of-the-lineup occasional nuisance he’s been. Nothing says, “You’re not scaring anyone” more than hitting eighth.
Spring training results don’t matter. Its all about the approach. Especially for Joey Gallo.
In his first game, Gallo had three plate appearances. He walked once, on four pitches. He struck out twice.
With two strikes, he is 0-2 with two strikeouts.
The Grand Experiment has a way to go.