If you took Joey Gallo in your fantasy draft last year hoping for a repeat of 2017 (.209/.333/.537, 41 home runs and 80 RBI), you pretty much got it (.206/.312/.498, 40 home runs and 92 RBI). Of course that batting average was a black hole that had to be covered up elsewhere, as Gallo’s remarkably low BABIP (.249 in 2018, .250 in 2017) doesn’t line up with the amount of hard contact he makes (48.5 percent last year; 46.4 percent in 2017).
In the second half of last season (55 games), Gallo hit 18 home runs with 41 RBI, 34 runs scored and a .932 OPS. Perhaps more importantly though, his batting average was .239 (.286 BABIP) over that stretch as he hit more line drives (25.7 percent). It’s not as if Gallo will suddenly hit .280, but those second half numbers project out to 49 home runs, 112 RBI and 93 runs over 150 games. In two full major league seasons Gallo has played 145 and 148 games, so 150-plus games is not a stretch for the coming season.
It’s not surprising that Gallo’s home run/fly ball rate surged in the second half of last season, to 36.7 percent from 22.9 percent in the first half. In 2017 his home run/fly ball rate essentially split that difference (30.1 percent), albeit with a similar spike in the second half of that season (37 percent). Once can be an anomaly, but two straight second half spikes is a move toward a trend.
Gallo carries multi-position fantasy eligibility into 2019, in the outfield (108 games last year) and at first base (35 games last year). Talk of a move back to third base after Adrian Beltre‘s retirement was quickly dismissed, but when it comes down to it position utility is not a key component of Gallo’s fantasy value.
FanGraphs’ THE BAT projection system puts Gallo in line with that aforementioned 150 game-pace set by his second half last year in 2019 (46 home runs, 112 RBI, 96 runs scored over 151 games). He had small upticks in contact rate all the way around in 2018, and if that continues this year more balls in play, along with a lot of hard contact and a lot of fly balls, seems to put 45-50 home runs in play.
I’m not quite ready to say Gallo will hit 50 home runs this year, even as some (Jonah Keri of CBS Sports, to be exact) think there’s that potential for him. But in this home run-happy era, he’s in some rare air in all the associate metrics that drive power numbers and a 45-100-100 (home runs-RBI-runs) season is within reach.
Joey Gallo 2019 Projection: .225/.340/.535, 45 home runs, 110 RBI, 95 runs scored, 5 SB
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