40-man: Joey Gallo.

A continuing look at the Rangers 40-man roster.

Age: 27
Left-Handed Hitting Right Fielder

It’s hard to say who the real Joey Gallo is. And maybe that is the real Joey Gallo. Unpredictable.

Is it the Joey Gallo who was on his way to an MVP-caliber season in 2019 before a broken bone shut him down? Is it the Joey Gallo who looked totally defeated in 2020?

Not counting his first two partial seasons in Texas, in 2015 and 2016, when Gallo was totally lost at the plate and swung more often and wildly than a broken gate in a hurricane, Gallo seemed to be improving year by year. His arrival came in 2019 when he was voted onto the American League All-Star team with a .986 OPS and an on-base percentage of .389. This after two years of forty-plus home runs.

Then it all stopped. He strained an oblique in early June and missed most of the month, came back for about a month, then broke a hamate bone in his right wrist and was done for the season on July 23.

Then 2020 happened. Joey Gallo got a look at the new ballpark. And the new ballpark got into Joey Gallo’s head. He complained about the dimensions. He was killed by shifts. Padres third baseman Manny Machado robbed Gallo fo a double deep in the right field corner. Yes, right field. That unnerved Gallo.

All in all, he reverted, putting up the worst numbers in four seasons as a Rangers regular. Gallo hit .181 with an on-base of .301. Worse, for a power hitter, his OPS was a very anemic .679, good for an OPS+ of 84. Compare that to his 2019 OPS+ of 144 and you see a guy who fell off the side of a cliff in 2020. 

Maybe it’s a case of getting off to a bad start and, in the shortened season, not having time to turn it around. Maybe it’s the case of letting the dimensions of The Shed freak him out so much he altered his swing. 

But hopefully, after watching the post-season and seeing actual bona fide accomplished major league hitters do just fine in that park, Gallo and the rest of his Rangers batsmates will not be so intimated. 

Even though his bat deserted him, Gallo won his first Gold Glove award in 2020. He still has the ingredients to be a perennial All-Star. There’s no question he is the Rangers starting right fielder in 2021.

That is, unless the Rangers ponder the question of whether to trade Gallo. His value is as high as it’s going to be. The Rangers have already waved the white flag for 2021 and 2022, after which he is a free agent and most likely gone.

This is the mess Chris Young inherited. It will be interesting to see how he navigates his way out of it.