Andrew Simon of mlb.com wrote an article yesterday featuring the most unusual spray charts in MLB.
One he chose to feature was Joey Gallo’s. Mainly because it is so unusually lopsided.
Spray charts indicate where a player hits a ball. Simon chose to feature Gallo’s spray chart because it is so unusual. According to Simon, in 846 of the batted balls Gallo has put into play in his career, just three percent have been grounders to the opposite field. Just 25 times in his career had he hit a ball the opposite way on the ground. Nine of those have been bunted, eight successfully.
That’s why opposing teams shift on him so often. Simon points out that in 2020, Gallo was shifted upon 96.4 percent of the time he came up to bat, which is second only to Matt Carpenter.
Take away the nine bunts, and Gallo has hit the ball just 16 times on the ground to left field. In six seasons.
Why would a team even put any defender anywhere near the left side of the field when Gallo bats?
The shift is single-handedly choking the offense out of baseball. It was created by way-too-clever-for-their-own-good analytics gurus as a way to prevent offense. And it’s working. It’s become the equivalent to watching a chess match. And just as thrilling.
It’s created bizarre defense placements where the third baseman plays in right field. Where you have five outfielders and only two infielders.
Guys like Joey Gallo are the biggest victims because they are so predictable and unable to course correct. The most glaring example of that was last season when Padres third baseman, their third baseman, robbed Gallo of a sure double with a catch deep in the right-field corner. Their third baseman.
While it was a remarkable play and worthy of being shown and re-shown on highlight reels, it’s everything that’s wrong with baseball. Hitting was already hard enough. Now they are chocking off the offense even more.
The Joey Gallos of baseball make it too easy.
Unless baseball outlaws the shift—and the hope is they do in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement—defensive alignments are going to get more convoluted. Offense is going to get more scare. And baseball is going to get harder to watch.