Joey Gallo hit his 100th career home run on Wednesday, and set an interesting record that reflects how players deliver value in baseball today.
With 41 home runs in 2017 and 40 home runs in 2018, there’s been no denying Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo as a power hitter early in his big league career. He hit his 12th home run of this season Wednesday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a 443-foot blast to center field that PNC Park.
That home run was also the 100th of Gallo’s career. In his 377th game, he passed Mark McGwire (393 games) to become the fastest player in American League history to reach the century mark in home runs and the third-fastest to reach that mark in major league history. Only Ryan Howard (325 games) and Ralph Kiner (376 games) did it faster.
Gallo has been a quintessential “three true outcomes” hitter, as evidenced by three walks and a strikeout to go with his home run in five plate appearances on Wednesday. He also set an interesting record for a certain type of hit, or lack thereof, at the time of his 100th career home run.
With 93 singles in his career, Gallo easily surpassed the previous record of fewest singles (172; Russell Branyan) to go with 100 career home runs.
Gallo will never threaten to win a batting title. But after hitting .209 in 2017 and .206 last year, he’s hitting a solid .274 this year (through Wednesday).
He is still hitting a lot of fly balls (37.7 percent entering Wednesday) and striking out a bunch (33.1 percent through Wednesday). But Gallo is hitting more line drives (29.5 percent entering Wednesday), talking more walks (21.3 percent walk rate through Wednesday) and chasing less (22.5 swing rate on pitches outside the strike zone entering Wednesday).
In this era of launch angle, exit velocity, home runs and reduced stigma for strikeouts, Gallo has unlocked some extra value with a notably more refined approach at the plate (1.7 bWAR and 1.6 fWAR entering Wednesday). And he now holds a record that reflects how the game has changed, largely eschewing simple base hits for a greater percentage of contact put in the air.