Those familiar with this space understand how much we love baseball and keeping track of statistical aberrations that continue to bloom, keeping the game fresh and relevant.
There are so many new numbers to absorb these days with the advent of analytics and the dawn of spin rates, exit velocity and wins above average. We welcome our millennial friends to the wonderful world of percentages.
Still, what we love most is knowing this game has been played with seriousness since the 1880s and you never know what will happen that no one has seen for decades or ever.
And that chill took the up elevator up our spines again on Wednesday thanks to Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers.
Gallo is the cover boy for what many believe baseball is all about these days. He’s an all-or-nothing-at-all hitter with significant power, a wicked upper cut and many holes in his bat.
His idea of an at-bat has generally been to hit a home run, walk or strike out. There usually is nothing in between. When he makes contact, the ball usually flies. You don’t see many soft ground balls bouncing off his lumber.
Now we have statistical evidence that proves Gallo is one of a kind.
On Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, Gallo dunked a massive homer into the Allegheny River in the third inning of the Rangers 9-6 win over the Pirates. In doing so, he became the first player in Major League history to hit 100 homers before collecting 100 singles. Gallo has just 93.
Not only that, the homer was the 100th of Gallo’s career in just his 377th game. And that made him the fastest to 100 homers in American League history. The only players with a better ratio are Ryan Howard (325) and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner (376).
“Yeah, that’s pretty crazy,” Gallo said. “Like, if you would have told me that I would do that three years ago, I would think you were crazy. Pretty cool accomplishment, honestly. Be in the history books forever, so that’s pretty special.”
Yes it is.
MLB.com did a marvelous overview of the Gallo phenomenon, tracing his career to his first MLB hit, a single, off Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija on June 2, 2015. He hit his first homer in his next at-bat and hasn’t stopped hitting them since.
According to its research, no MLB player had fewer than 172 singles at the time of their 100th homer. That was Russell Branyan, who was followed by Ken Phelps (174), Ryan Howard (176), Chris Carter (179) and Dave Kingman (180).
Gallo also reached 50 homers before 50 singles. He hit his 50th homer in his 204th game on April 3, 2018. His 50th single didn’t come until six games later.
Here’s the Gallo career breakdown: He has 1,398 plate appearances in his 377 games. Along with the 100 homers, he has only 50 doubles and six triples to accompany his 93 singles. More significantly, he has struck out 524 times and walked 198 times.
That means Gallo has either homered, struck out or walked in 59 percent of his plate appearances and singled in substantially less than one percent. That is absolutely amazing.
MLB.com tells us that in 2018 there were 59 players who had had at least 93 singles. Jean Segura had 136. Dee Gordon had 170 singles in 2017.
Gallo’s rookie season was the only one during which he had more singles (12) than homers (six), if you don’t count 2016 when a home run was his only hit of a season in which he had only 30 at-bats in 17 games.
Gallo also hit the first sacrifice fly of his career this season after 1,337 plate appearances, also a MLB record.
Mark McGwire is the only player in MLB history to hit 20 homers and have more homers than singles in single season. He did it four times. Gallo has already done it twice and he is only 25 years old.
Under first-year manager Chris Woodward, the Rangers have made repairing Gallo’s swing into one of their biggest projects. He’s been working with hitting coach Luis Ortiz since before spring training on being more selective at the plate.
“As soon as Luis Ortiz got hired, we talked on the phone on the next day,” Gallo told The Athletic. “He said ‘You could be such a great player, you’re already a great player but you could be even better, you have to be more stubborn in the zone. You have a great eye, but you have to trust it and use it to your advantage.’”
By the start of May, Gallo was swinging at just 41.2 percent of his pitches, down by eight percent over last season.
“Less chasing pitches,” Gallo agreed. “The player I am, they’re not going to just f—–g throw me hittable pitches, I have to earn them. It’s been a short sample size, but it’s good that I’m actually improving. It’s something I’ve really been working on.”