Rangers slugger Joey Gallo can hit a baseball really far. His 32 home runs this season rank him fourth in the Major Leagues, but he is looking similar to another big bat, Chris Carter.
The term home run hitter has had a changing definition over the course of baseball history. Babe Ruth was the first true home run hitter, setting the benchmark as a bigger guy who could straight up mash. As baseball progressed and got more competitive, the term changed. While home run hitters were still these bigger guys, these men were bigger thanks to pharmaceuticals instead of hot dogs.
Since the steroid era of the late 90’s and early 00’s, power hitters have a completely new make up. Home run hitters are sacrificing their batting average in order to hit the ball out of the ballpark. This low batting average leads to more strikeouts, and Chris Carter was the poster boy for this.
Carter has never hit above .240 for a season in his career, and has struck out at least 150 times in the four full seasons he has played. But he has slugged over 120 home runs during those seasons. Now, after his recent stint with the Yankees, he is stuck in Triple-A, and will likely not be on an MLB roster again.
Chris Davis is another man who falls into this category. Over his 10-year career, Davis has hit 259 home runs, while maintaining a .247 batting average. He is also averaging 150 strikeouts per season. If he holds that pace for another 10 years, Davis will strikeout over 3,000 times, over 400 more that any other player in Major League history.
Every season there are more and more players fall into this category, and Rangers slugger Joey Gallo looks like he is the next. The 23-year-old has 32 bombs on the year, only behind Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for the lead in the majors. But Gallo is also fourth in strikeouts, with 139 in just 103 games this season. Gallo’s .212 batting average indicates that he could soon join the exclusive club with Carter and Davis, of the new modern home run hitter.
This is Gallo’s first full season, so there is a learning curve associated with a player’s first full season in the bigs. That would be true if Gallo was getting other hits instead of just home runs. 32 of his 67 hits are home runs, which indicates nearly half the time he is getting a hit, he is clubbing a home run. Gallo truly is swinging for the fences.
Teams have become accustom to having their power hitter hitting close to the Mendoza Line, and striking out nearly 200 times a season. The return? About 30 home runs per year if they’re luck. This has become the new standard, and it is shortening careers as a result if a player has a bad year. Joey Gallo is heading down this path, and despite his youth, he needs to produce the way he has been for a while. Otherwise, Joey Gallo might turn into the next Chris Carter.