Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo made a trip to Baton Rouge, La., this offseason to visit Marucci’s Baseball Performance Lab facility.
It was there that Gallo was refitted for a bat that would better help his needs. Marucci’s bat lab tells players -- whether they use wood or aluminum -- what weight and model bat would work best for them and tailors it to specifically fit each person.
“I usually use a top-heavier bat,” Gallo explained. “Then Marucci kind of told me that if I distributed the weight a little bit more, made it a little more balanced and had more weight down by the handle, I would swing the bat a little bit better, and my hands would be quicker and whatnot, so it's pretty interesting stuff. I have those bats coming this spring.”
Getting a new bat was one of the first steps for Gallo to bounce back after a rough season at the plate in 2020. He slashed .181/.301/.378 through 226 plate appearances in the shortened season.
Manager Chris Woodward said Gallo and the coaching staff looked at his numbers from 2019 to ‘20 to see what they needed to work on in particular going into this season. After studying that, Woodward saw that while Gallo controlled the strike zone more often than not, he was swinging and missing more often than in the previous season and popping the ball up more.
Gallo is “all in” on fixing those things and becoming a better all-around player, Woodward said. He worked on specific mechanical things like fixing his posture and making solid contact with the ball.
“He's going to be one of the best hitters in baseball because when he hits it, his data shows that it doesn't end up in guys' gloves very often because he hits the ball so hard,” Woodward said. “And so last year he made an adjustment at the end; we just ran out of time.
“He's good at swinging at good pitches. Now we just got to get him to obviously put the ball in play more often. If he does that, look out.”
Gallo, despite winning an American League Gold Glove Award, is also trying to become a better all-around player and leading in the field this season. Woodward said Gallo is always looking to improve, even if it’s just minor tweaks here and there.
He played the majority of his games in right field in 2020 for the first time in his Major League career and sometimes had to adjust to reading the ball off the bat on the opposite side. Especially in Globe Life Field, the Rangers' new park, Gallo often had to make adjustments on the fly when it came to how the ball played in the air or on the ground.
Gallo feels like, because of those things, he could’ve been even better at times.
“From a throwing standpoint, or my arm, I'm very confident in throwing,” Gallo said. “I want guys to run on me. I'm excited to let the ball go; that's kind of why I play out there. I always want to be perfect. I think defensively, it's one of those things for me, it's more of just a mental [thing] where you just got to be focused.”
Gallo said he believes he, and the team as a whole, is better prepared mentally going into this season than the last. How things played out with the postponement, the subsequent shortening of the regular season and the COVID protocols in place affected them more than they thought they would.
His goal for this season is to be a more complete and healthy player, consistently throughout the season.
“Obviously, it would be great to be an All-Star again, it'd be great to win a Gold Glove again,” Gallo said. “But at the end of the day for me, winning is the most important. I want to make the playoffs. My main goal is to help this team, develop and win games.”