We won’t ever forget this Rangers season.
We won’t forget it because Yu was traded and because Adrian grabbed history and, in the relatively lousy American League and with the Rangers’ relatively unimposing schedule, there may be another reason we won’t forget it.
The 2017 season was also be remembered, forever, as the year Joey Gallo arrived.
Not in the physical sense, because that happened in 2015.
In the metaphysical sense.
Which brings me back to Adrian.
Any of us could dump a thousand words on what makes Adrian Beltre great. What makes him special. The things that set him apart (not including umpire suspensions).
Here’s another three:
He got hurt.
Now, Adrian is always hurt, and almost always plays through it, sometimes when just about nobody else would even consider the possibility.
But sometimes the trainers and medical staff win the argument.
Adrian injured his right calf in spring training, on March 27, two days before Texas broke camp in Surprise. It would be two months before he would join the active roster.
Up until the final week of spring training, the only real unknown as far as the start to Gallo’s season was concerned was which infield or outfield corner Texas would have him primarily playing on once the Round Rock schedule got rolling.
Instead, Adrian was placed on the disabled list, and Gallo made the club and the starting lineup.
And now he’s fifth in the Major Leagues in home runs (31), 19th in slug (.561), and 35th in OPS (.879), all despite hitting just .210. His home run rate (one for every 10.1 at-bats) leads baseball, and nobody in the game is more difficult to double up (once in 314 at-bats).
Joey Gallo is good at baseball.
And getting better.
That’s his habit, by the way. It happened in AAA — he hit .195/.289/.450 (.739 OPS) for the Express in 2015, and then .240/.367/.529 (.896 OPS) in 2016 — and it’s happening in the big leagues.
In his 2015–2016 looks with Texas, spanning 153 plate appearances, Gallo hit .173/.281/.368.
In this year’s 364 plate appearances, he’s at .210/.319/.561.
Which includes, over his last 55 plate appearances, a robust .320/.382/.880, with nine home runs among his 16 hits.
His OPS against righties this season is .883.
Against lefties, it’s .865.
Only seven left-handed hitters in all of baseball (minimum 75 plate appearances) have a higher OPS against southpaws.
Gallo has hit safely in seven straight games, a career best, and has homered in two straight — as has Adrian — with six bombs in those last seven, nine in his last 14, and 10 in his last 17. Only Giancarlo Stanton (11) has more home runs than Gallo (10) since the All-Star Break.
And while Elias points out that he’s only the second player in MLB history to pile up at least 20 home runs among his first 50 career hits (Mark McGwire was the other), I’m interested to see how many others had at least 30 among their first 75 hits (McGwire didn’t).
None of us would raise an eyebrow at this point if hearing from the Rangers that, based on all the analytics — and I’m talking about much more sophisticated, proprietary stuff than just exit velocity and launch angle — they couldn’t find a reliable comp for Gallo as he was progressing through the system.
Not just among active big leaguers.
(And that’s without even considering Gallo’s abilities on defense and on the bases.)
Rougie had Elvis to help bring him along, to mentor him.
Elvis had Michael.
Michael had Alex.
(Tex didn’t have Raffy.)
Joey has Adrian.
Adrian, who never gives an at-bat away and who plays through pain and whose nuanced play at third base is supernatural and who, like the front office, isn’t going to believe that 162+ is out of reach until mathematical elimination insists.
And whose calf injury paved the way for Joey to arrive in 2017.
He’s 23. And getting better.
He is can’t-miss baseball.
They’re not going to rename Randol Mill Road “Joey Gallo Way” when the new ballpark opens in 2020, but as often as folks take the liberty to call this one “The Temple,” there’s no reason a roadway can’t have an unofficial nickname, too.
Especially when there’s a hitter regularly hammering divots into the pavement.
I sit here thinking about how much better Gallo will be in 2020, and it’s scary.
There are more great baseball players than there are uniquely special ones — there was Nolan and there was Pudge and there was Josh and there is Adrian — and while it’s certainly too soon to put that label on Joey Gallo, the tools are there.
The dude is special.
How much better can he be?