They don’t need him to resemble something he’s not. The frisky quick-twitch outfielder doesn’t need to be Bernie Williams or Tony Gwynn. He doesn’t need to hit .300, .280, .260 or even .240.
He just has to do what he does best in a new environment: crack dingers and, failing that, crack doubles or triples.
That’s rendered more difficult than ever these days by the abominable shift and, given the chance to give the defensive alignment a piece of his mind — on top of everything else he’s dealing with these days — Gallo delivered in a recent piece for The Athletic (subscription required).
The 28-year-old slugger was one of many MLB stars to speak out on the difficulties of hitting in the modern age of 101 MPH fastballs and stacks of outfielders with reckless abandon.
There’s so much going on that it’s no wonder more hitters than ever are selling out for power. After all, if making contact’s that much tougher and there are fielders everywhere you turn, why wouldn’t you just swing for the fences, where no one can rob you?
Yankees’ Joey Gallo is against the shift.
We appreciate that Gallo said the game needs to change only “a little bit” here. Keep your defensive creativity and managerial acumen, sure, but at a certain point, we shouldn’t be prioritizing bunts to third over line drives into the gap just because the former guarantees exactly one base.
There’s a mix between old school and new school philosophy that we still haven’t found quite yet, and it involves hitters being rewarded for spraying line drives around the outfield instead of being admonished for not “taking what the defense gives them” (eg, a dinky single).
Gallo, quite simply, isn’t there to single, except in moments of extreme duress.
Last season, split between the Yankees and Rangers, Gallo posted 38 homers, just 13 doubles and one triple, a part of an almost-astonishing profile of 99 hits total. That’s 52 for extra bases, 47 singles, a stunning breakdown. In Gallo’s career, he’s never had a season with more singles than XBH, and the dissonance is typically extreme.
In other words, at Gallo’s best, he’s depositing baseballs well beyond the defense. But at his worst, he’s almost never going to resort to soft contact just to get on base.
If the shift were to be eliminated — or somewhat tweaked — Gallo would almost certainly see more of a benefit from raking line drives to left- and right-center, and might even get a few singles back from testing the shallow second baseman with his elite exit velocity.
Don’t you wish the full 162-game schedule had already been nailed down so we could talk about interesting modifications like this instead of the essentials?