ST. PETERSBURG -- Joey Gallo's first career All-Star selection on Sunday afternoon came as a reward for his contributions to the Rangers this season.
Manager Chris Woodward is certain, however, that his outfielder’s influence will stretch far beyond this year's Midsummer Classic.
“In five years’ time,” Woodward said, “you’re probably going to look back and say, ‘This was the beginning of the Joey Gallo Era in Texas.’”
The starting lineup for the 2019 All-Star Game was announced on Thursday, with Rangers designated hitter Hunter Pence selected as the American League DH. On Sunday, following Texas’ 6-2 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, MLB announced that Gallo and teammate Mike Minor had nabbed two of the AL’s 23 available reserve spots. Seventeen of those were elected by the players’ vote and the remaining six were selected by the Commissioner’s Office.
“I feel like I’m starting to put it all together a little bit,” Gallo said. “I always knew I had the ability to be more than just a power hitter; it was just a matter of time. It’s pretty nice to kind of get that validation and to be named an All-Star. It’s a pretty special honor.”
The power-hitting Gallo, 25, is in just his third full MLB season. He’s already surpassed 100 career homers -- the third fastest to do so, reaching the mark in just 377 games. He has 20 this season, the most recent of which was an absolute bomb struck off AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell that traveled 436 feet in Sunday’s finale.
Even so early on in his career, Gallo’s numbers are staggering: He’s hit more homers than singles in two separates seasons, more than any other player who slugged at least 20 homers except Mark McGwire, who did it four times. This season, Gallo has 46 RBIs despite missing most of June on the injured list with a left oblique strain.
While Gallo has drawn criticism in the past for his strikeouts, Woodward is impressed with the youngster’s evolution around the homers. Walks and strikeouts filled his statlines in the past, but 2019 seems to have brought with it Gallo 2.0: more selective, more cerebral and utterly terrifying to opposing pitching.
Gallo, who hit .209 in 2017 and .206 in ’18, went 2-for-2 on Sunday to push his season average to .286. The walks and power are still there: he has a .426 on-base percentage and a .683 slugging percentage.
“I’m really proud of him,” Woodward said. “He’s going to change this organization in a lot of ways. He wants to. He wants to be the best player in the league. He wants to be the best player the Rangers have ever had, but he’s doing it in a way that’s stable. It’s foundational. You can repeat and it’s more sustainable than just go out and hit homers. The impact he has on our lineup is pretty significant.”
On the other side of the coin, Minor’s impact on opposing lineups is also pretty significant. The left-hander entered Sunday with an AL-best 2.40 ERA and an MLB-best 5.7 wins above replacement, as measured by Baseball-Reference. Minor blazed through June, posting a 3-0 record, 1.70 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over five starts while holding opponents to a .221/.291/.338 slash line.
The Rangers weren’t quite sure where Minor would slot in this season until Woodward announced that he would be the Opening Day starter. Still, Minor felt he had much to prove before accepting an “ace” or “No. 1” tag, and he set out to prove it.
“He’s as deserving a player as I’ve ever seen to make the All-Star team; he almost deserves to start the game, honestly,” Woodward said. “You look at any statistical number, old school or new school, and he’s been at the top. It’s been really fun to watch.”
In a testament to his toughness and efficiency, Minor has thrown a pair of complete games this season, the first two of his seven-year career. The first, which came April 16 against the Angels, was a shutout in which he needed only 103 pitches and faced three batters over the minimum.
Minor used 108 pitches during the second complete game. It came during his last start, on Wednesday, a one-run effort against the Tigers.
The 31-year-old has 110 K’s through 112 2/3 innings in 2019 after ringing up 132 in all of 2018.
“For me, I feel like it’s all the hard work that’s paid off,” Minor said. “I like the fact that now I can say that I’m an All-Star.”
For Woodward, the Rangers’ newest honorees couldn’t have been more deserving.
“Especially a guy like Joey, who’s worked so hard to get to where he is,” Woodward said. “And then you talk to Mike Minor, who didn’t know he was going to be the No. 1 coming in. … He was kind of a man on a mission coming into Spring Training. You could tell with just the way he was working and the way he was talking.
“I didn’t know him before, personally, so I just said, ‘Man, this guy is pretty intense.' He wants this, he wants to be great. It’s cool to see him go out and do that, and he earns the All-Star nod at the same time.”
The 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard will be played on Tuesday, July 9, at Progressive Field in Cleveland. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.