OAKLAND, Calif. — The final All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday. The Rangers have perhaps the league’s most deserving outfielder.
Also, they have Adolis García.
For now, though, the topic of conversation is Joey Gallo. If you haven’t been keeping close tabs lately, it’s OK. In the last 10 days, due in part to a major rules change, Gallo has turned the AL upside down, zipping past his teammate and just about everybody else. Just consider that when dawn broke Thursday, this is where Gallo, surging at the plate and steady all year defensively, stood among AL outfielders:
Tied for fifth in Outs Above Average, an index of defensive value.Third in OPS.Second in WAR.
And that was before he punctuated the Rangers’ 8-3 win over Oakland with three hits, including another homer, and a walk. Up by eight runs, the Rangers pulled him before he could do any more damage to the crumbling infrastructure of the RingCentral Coliseum. Gallo reaches the statistical midpoint of the Rangers’ season, the 81st game, with a .239/.396/.498/.894 slash line.
But it may simply be too late to earn him any recognition with an All-Star berth. The starters were announced Thursday. García, the lone Ranger to advance to the second round, finished eighth of nine contenders in the outfield. The bulk of the reserves were decided last weekend by player voting, though they won’t be revealed until Sunday. García, who had gaudier numbers than Gallo for much of the season, may make it via the player vote.
“I would love to be there,” said Gallo, who homered in his only previous All-Star Game at-bat in 2019. “Going was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m really hoping it’s not too late. I feel like I’ve had a good season; I’ve been up there in WAR all year. But I didn’t have any sexy numbers to hang my hat on. It wasn’t anything cool. It was kind of sneaky good.”
The only hope are the six “at-large” berths reserved for the Commissioner’s office, usually to assure all teams are represented with at least one player and to finish off pitching staffs. In other words, it’s in Rob Manfred’s hands. Which has never been a particularly reassuring phrase. It would be, well, unusual to use one of those spots for an extra outfielder whose case rests purely on performance and not some other roster requirement.
Then again, Manfred’s office created the unusual circumstance in which we now find ourselves — with a game that has changed dramatically in the last 10 days. And since it has, nobody has thrived like Gallo.
MLB changed the rules of the game June 21, when it started enforcing a long-ignored ban on pitchers using foreign substances on balls. Mandatory checks followed. Irritated pitchers started undressing on the way off the mound. Spin rates mysteriously started dropping, making four-seam fastballs, in particular, appear a little less explosive.
By that time, though, fan voting, which determines starters, was well down the road. Gallo was not among the top 10, leaving him no chance at advancing to the second round, which determines starters. That concluded Thursday.
Player voting, which makes up the bulk of the remaining roster, started two days after the rule change went into effect and was completed by last Saturday.
Gallo was just getting warmed up.
He hit a pair of homers against Kansas City on Saturday, the opening salvos of a five-game homer streak, which is tied for the second-longest in franchise history behind Kevin Mench’s seven-game streak in 2006.
Starting with that game, he’s tortured baseballs. He is 9 for 16 with five walks, seven homers and 13 RBIs. He passed García in OPS on Wednesday, caught him in homers Thursday. Both have 20. They are the only two AL outfielders with as many as 20.
“Whether you look at old school or new age stats, he’s among the leaders,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s doing it on the field. He’s doing it at the plate. Offensively, what he’s done lately speaks for itself. He deserves it.”
And Gallo made it clear he wants it, too. He was asked in jest if he wanted it enough to wear the generic-looking All-Star jerseys MLB is promoting for the game. The jerseys have been ridiculed on social media since being released last week.
“If I’m in the All-Star Game, I don’t care what the hell we wear,” Gallo said. “I’ll wear a trash bag if they want.”
Think about it, Commissioner. MLB might even be able to score a sponsorship deal for them, too.
RangersBy Evan Grant
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