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Gallo's HR ascent indicates improved approach

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- With another home run on Tuesday night, Rangers infielder Joey Gallo is slowly creeping up on Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge for the American League lead.

Gallo hit a two-run home run off of Justin Verlander in the Rangers' 10-4 win over the Tigers, giving him 34 for the season. The shot had an exit velocity of 108 mph and a distance of 459 feet, according to Statcast™. Judge is leading the league with 36 and Gallo is in third, one behind Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

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ARLINGTON -- With another home run on Tuesday night, Rangers infielder Joey Gallo is slowly creeping up on Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge for the American League lead.

Gallo hit a two-run home run off of Justin Verlander in the Rangers' 10-4 win over the Tigers, giving him 34 for the season. The shot had an exit velocity of 108 mph and a distance of 459 feet, according to Statcast™. Judge is leading the league with 36 and Gallo is in third, one behind Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

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"I didn't notice that," Gallo said. "I don't know how many [Judge] has."

This is the most home runs by a Rangers player since Josh Hamilton hit 43 and Adrian Beltre hit 36 in 2012. The Rangers have only had two players ever lead the American League in home runs. Alex Rodriguez did it three straight years in 2001-03 and Juan Gonzalez did so in 1992-93.

"It would be a cool accomplishment, but at the end of the day, I just want to make the playoffs and have a chance to win the World Series," Gallo said. "If I can be in the top three or five, that would be a lot better than I was expecting or planning. Anything would be good."

The Rangers aren't concerned with Gallo's standing in the home run race. They are more impressed with the way he's improved as the season progressed. That can be a challenge for a young, inexperienced hitter.

Gallo is hitting .250 since the All-Star break with 13 home runs, 23 RBIs, a .357 on-base percentage and a .738 slugging percentage. He leads the American League in home runs and slugging percentage in that span.

"It's really significant," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "It's a recognition of what he needs to do in the batter's box and the ability to put the ball in play. You still see pitchers trying to make adjustments to him. He is walking and not chasing, hitting the ball in the middle of the field and not the over-the-top pull. For him to continue that process, it's huge for his confidence. He has become a better hitter, not just a slugger."

Gallo can still slug it. Fourteen of his home runs have had an exit velocity of 110 mph or harder, behind only Giancarlo Stanton (23) and Judge (19). He has hit 13 home runs 430 feet or deeper, one more than Judge.

Gallo is also headed toward being the second player in Major League history to have more home runs than singles, with a minimum of 21 home runs. Mark McGwire did it five times and Barry Bonds once.

That's hardly a surprise. Gallo had more home runs than singles in each of his five seasons in the Minor Leagues.

"That's just the player I am," Gallo said. "You look at just the way the field's shaped for me. I hit a line drive to the right side, I'm out. If I hit a ground ball to the right side, I'm out. As long as I'm putting together good at-bats or drawing walks, then for me that's what's important. Getting on-base and doing damage when I can and playing good defense."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Joey Gallo