Joey Gallo is one of the most unusual hitters in Major League history
There is perhaps no one in baseball history quite like the Joey Gallo. While the Rangers' slugger crushes some of the furthest dingers in the game, his prodigious power has a drawback: Namely, he doesn't hit singles. Like, at all.
With the modern game featuring more homers than ever, you might think that Gallo has company in his skillset. However, the other famed power hitters -- from Giancarlo Stanton to Aaron Judge to Rhys Hoskins -- pick up plenty of singles as a side effect from smashing the ball very hard.
But, the Rangers' first baseman/outfielder/maybe-third baseman disregards hits the way a gout-infected 18th century nobleman ignored roughage. Last year, Gallo hit 41 HRs and picked up only 32 singles. That kind of ratio typically only happens during record-breaking home run seasons, like Barry Bonds in 2007 (73 home runs and 49 singles) or Mark McGwire in 1998 (70 home runs and 61 singles). Yet, Gallo managed to pull it off without that historic power.
In fact, in the 830 plate appearances he's amassed, Gallo's 60 career homers and 57 singles make him an outlier among everyone -- even the young homer-bashing sluggers who have debuted alongside him:
Another way to understand how unique Gallo is as a hitter is to compare him to two hitters just from last season. There's Stanton -- another a massive slugger -- and Dee Gordon, who almost never goes yard:
Gallo has adjusted his game to the rise of defensive shifts, going to the opposite field nearly twice as much as he did last season. And he collected his first big league bunt single earlier this year:
But even with those changes Gallo still stands alone, homering 12 times this year and singling only 13 times. That ratio is something that has been accomplished only seven times by hitters who qualified for the batting title in Major League history coming into this season (Gallo's 2017 among them).
It's impossible to predict if he will keep this up. As we've seen, even McGwire was able to outpace his big league homers with singles, and he was essentially a human dinger by the end of his career. But Gallo has changed his approach at the plate and is still showcasing an almost unprecedented desire to skip first base on his trips around the bases.
There actually is one player who has Gallo beat in career HR:1B ratio: Ryan Schimpf, who failed to reach our minimum of 600 plate appearances to make the graphic above. But, that's precisely the problem: While Schimpf has 35 career homers and 28 singles, he hasn't been able to find the same balance that Gallo has in order to stay in the Majors.
Artwork by Jenny Goldstick / MLB.com