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Joey Gallo Is Killing the Importance of Batting Average

Joey Gallo is leading two revolutions at once — and hitting a few dingers to boot

By John EdwardsPublished 7 years ago 2 min read
Top Story - September 2017

We’ve talked a lot about the “fly-ball revolution” lately — the idea of elevating and making hard contact to increase production. Yonder Alonso has used it to his benefit, as have players like Mike Moustakas and Brett Gardner.

We’ve also talked a lot about “Three True Outcomes” lately — going deep into ABs and finishing the AB with either a strikeout, walk, or home run. Miguel Sano has been extremely productive using TTO (even if he’s fallen off recently), as well as Aaron Judge.

There are certainly overlaps for the two groups of fly-ball hitters and TTO hitters, but there’s one hitter who has thus far emerged as the poster-child of both schools of thought — Joey Gallo.

Joey Gallo is not only leading the majors in TTO%, he’s leading FB% as well — both by huge margins. Both are doubly historic —if the season ended today, Gallo’s TTO% would be roughly tied with Jack Custs’ 2007 for the highest single season TTO% ever, and his FB% would be the highest FB% ever by 3.4% (besting Frank Thomas’s mark in 2006).

A typical Gallo AB usually involves Gallo waiting for a pitch that he can crush and elevate. He either gets it, or he doesn’t — in which case he strikes out or walks.

Hitting so many fly balls, however, reflects highly negatively on ones’ BABIP, and also on one’s average. Fly balls are easier to catch than ground balls and liners, so if a player hit fly balls more frequently, he’ll see his average on those balls in play drop, and his average will drop as well.

Gallo is not immune to this effect — Gallo is batting solidly below the Mendoza line this season, to the tune of .193 as of Monday. But Joey Gallo doesn’t really seem to care. He’s still elevating, walking, and striking out, and despite the stinky batting average, Gallo is running an .814 OPS, which puts him in the upper tier of the league and in company with Wil Myers and Miguel Cabrera.

Gallo’s production while running such an abysmal batting average only showcases how antiquated of a measure batting average can be. Take, for instance, Adam Jones, who is slashing .263/.299/.424. Despite running a higher batting average than Gallo, Gallo reaches base at roughly the same clip, and actually averages more bases per AB than Jones. As a result, Gallo is producing far more than Jones.

Gallo isn’t reaching base in all the traditional ways, but is instead taking his walks and waiting for pitches to crush. His approach at the plate isn’t the single most valuable strategy for all batters — few can crush and elevate the ball like Gallo, so Dee Gordon should probably stay away from Gallo’s methodology — but it’s effective for him, and it’s something that is largely more sustainable than the traditional ways of providing production in baseball. Gallo’s approach can’t run into bad BABIP luck (because his approach involves keeping the ball out of play), and his stellar plate discipline isn’t something flukey.

Gallo remains one of the most exciting players in all of baseball, and it’s good news to hear that the Rangers see no issue with his approach at the plate. Gallo has fully embraced the TTO and fly-ball revolution philosophies, and to try to dissuade him from that is to attempt to halt the progress of modern baseball.


About the Creator

John Edwards

Staff Writer for The Unbalanced, Contributor at Sporting News.

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