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Joey Gallo's Value

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New Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo is having a highly unusual season.

Gallo is hitting .223, but this is a case where batting average doesn’t tell you very much. He has a .379 on-base percentage, a .490 slugging percentage and 25 home runs.

This makes for some interesting statistical combinations.

Gallo could be the first batting-title qualifier with a sub-.225 batting average and an on-base percentage of .375 or higher in an uninterrupted season since Mickey Tettleton did that for the 1990 Orioles.

Three other players have managed that combination since 1900: Roy Cullenbine of the 1947 Tigers and two players whose careers rate more highly by Bill James’ statistical measures (like Runs Created) than traditional stats – Jimmy Wynn of the 1976 Braves and Gene Tenace of the 1978 Padres (Aaron Hicks did it for the Yankees in last year's shortened season).

Additionally, Gallo has 25 home runs but only 6 doubles. Given that he’ll now be playing regularly in Yankee Stadium, it’s not out of the question that he’ll keep hitting four homers for every double.

Three players have hit at least 25 home runs and finished a season with at least four times as many homers as doubles.

Hall-of-Famer Harmon Killebrew had the most home runs of that group – 49 with 11 doubles for the 1964 Twins. Dave Kingman had 37 home runs and 9 doubles for the 1982 Mets. Mark McGwire did it twice – 32 home runs and 8 doubles in 2000 followed by 29 home runs and 4 doubles in 2001, both for the Cardinals.

The low-average, high-OBP, high-slugging player has gradually become a little bit more a part of the game than it ever was before.

There are four players who entered Thursday with a sub-.225 batting average and an OPS of .800 or higher this season (minimum 225 plate appearances) — Gallo, Yasmani Grandal of the White Sox, Brandon Lowe of the Rays, and Mike Zunino of the Rays. Prior to 2000, there were only six such seasons in MLB history.

But while the focus may be on what Gallo brings from an offensive perspective, his defense warrants strong consideration too.

Gallo’s 14 Defensive Runs Saved are the most among outfielders this season. His 27 Runs Saved since the start of 2020 are the most by any player in MLB. He ranks tied for first among outfielders in the Range component of Runs Saved and first in the Arm component in that span.

Gallo’s lead among outfielders in Runs Saved over the last two seasons is a large one. The next-closest outfielder in that time is Byron Buxton with 18.

Gallo is a more complete player than meets the eye. His 84 Total Runs this season ranks tied for 13th in MLB and offer another lesson that you must go well beyond batting average to ascertain a player’s value.

Most Defensive Runs Saved – Since Start of 2020 Season

Name Current Team DRS
Joey Gallo Yankees 27
Kiké Hernández Red Sox 22
Isiah Kiner-Falefa Rangers 22
Jacob Stallings Pirates 20
Byron Buxton Twins 18
Joshua Fuentes Rockies 18
Ryan McMahon Rockies 18

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