Joey Gallo is putting together one of the strangest MLB seasons of all time.It's not because Gallo is mashing homers -- his 36 long balls, which have him just one off the American League lead, help him fit right in in baseball's current home run boom. No, it's because of
Joey Gallo is putting together one of the strangest MLB seasons of all time.
It's not because Gallo is mashing homers -- his 36 long balls, which have him just one off the American League lead, help him fit right in in baseball's current home run boom. No, it's because of just how much of Gallo's offense home runs account for.
The Rangers slugger -- who came off the seven-day concussion disabled list to mash his latest homer on Tuesday -- doesn't just have 36 home runs. Gallo also has only 20 singles to go along with them. That's right: he has 16 more home runs than singles. That puts Gallo in the company of a tiny collection of hitters.
Only two players in Major League history have qualified for a batting title and finished with more homers than plain old base hits. You might recognize the names: Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, in the great home run chase years at the turn of the millennium. They did it three times between them -- McGwire in 1998 and '99, and Bonds in 2001.
During Bonds' record-setting 73-homer season, everything coming off his bat was leaving the ballpark. He finished with 49 singles that year. Likewise with McGwire in 1998, when he outdueled Sammy Sosa to shatter Roger Maris' longstanding 61-homer mark by hitting 70 himself. Big Mac had 61 singles in that campaign, then followed it up in 1999 with a 65-homer, 58-single year.
A few others have come close since then. The Rays' Carlos Pena hit 39 homers in 2009, leading the league, while collecting 41 singles. The next year, Jose Bautista crushed a Major League-best 54 home runs in his breakout season with the Blue Jays, but he tallied 56 singles along with them.
And then there is Gallo. The 23-year-old isn't on pace to smash any home run records, but his season is more extreme than those of Bonds and McGwire. Gallo has 1.8 times the number of home runs as singles. Bonds' homers-to-singles ratio was 1.49. McGwire's was 1.15 in 1998 and 1.12 in '99.
Think about this: Gallo has 36 homers and 72 total hits. Thanks to home run No. 36, his split of homers to non-home-run hits is now exactly 50-50. No qualified hitter has ever had home runs account for half his total hits in a season. (Bonds was closest, with his 73 homers in 2001 representing 47 percent of his 156 hits.)
But that's the nature of Gallo, who knows his role on the Rangers is to mash. He does that with the best of them. Gallo has hit 25 of his home runs 400 feet or farther this season, according to Statcast™, tied for second-most of any hitter. Seven have been projected at 450-plus feet, tied with Giancarlo Stanton for the most in the Majors.
And it's not like no one could have seen this coming. Gallo has always been this way -- even in his five Minor League seasons, hitting more home runs than singles in each campaign.
"That's just the player I am," Gallo said recently. "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."
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.