The relief on Joey Gallo’s face was obvious on Thursday night. The Yankees’ struggling slugger knows he is paid to hit balls hard, preferably over the fence, and get on base. Finally, after making a minor adjustment and being just a tick more aggressive in his approach, Gallo got some results.
Over the last two weeks heading into Saturday night’s game against the Cubs at the Stadium, Gallo has hit .294/.333/.824 with a 1.157 OPS. He’s hit three home runs in the span of his last five games.
Gallo made minor adjustments with his hands and has tried to quiet his swing. A scout who watched him in Minneapolis earlier this week also noted that Gallo seems to be a little more aggressive at the plate.
“He’s going after close pitches more,” the scout said. “He looks like he’s ready to attack early and I think he’s swinging more. He does look quieter. The head is more steady. He looks better.”
Gallo said he is more aware of keeping the at-bat in his control.
“It’s possibly just me trying to get my best swing off and not necessarily try not to leave it up to sometimes the umpire to make a decision on the close call,” Gallo said. “I don’t know I’m just trying to try to get good swings off.”
Since May 27, Gallo’s swing percentage, according to FanGraphs, is 54.5% for the season. That’s a slight uptick over his season percentage of 50.5%. That has also correlated with a slight uptick in Gallo’s strikeout in that span, but first things first. The Yankees are encouraged by Gallo’s recent improvements.
“I don’t know if I would say aggressive,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I think he’s trying to be tightened up from a stride standpoint, keeping the head still a little bit more while also trying to maintain that aggressiveness. Which, hopefully, will make him just a little more precise, a little more accurate. So, I think that little subtle adjustment [will] hopefully [be] something that helps him just be a little more consistent.”
The uptick in Gallo’s results has also coincided with him playing in right field, where he played the majority of his career. Saturday night, Gallo was back in left for the first time since May 19.
“It’s a tough left field, the sun can be hard and in that it’s short down the line and then gets big near center field,” Gallo said. “It’s a lot of running, but it’s not anything that is out of the ordinary. I am OK playing there.”
The lefty slugger profiled as a perfect fit in the Yankees’ heavily right-handed power lineup and he became the everyday left fielder after Clint Frazier missed most of 2021 and the Yankees decided to move on. With the Rangers, Gallo was an analytics sweetheart who hit for power and on-base percentage. He struck out, but the home runs made that worth the price. In parts of seven seasons with the Rangers, Gallo slashed .211/.336/.497 with an .833 OPS.
Over the last few weeks, the video he has seen of himself is starting to look more like what he did in Texas. He feels it’s put him in a position to get off his best swings more often.
“I’d say the adjustments I’ve made make it looks more like my swing and more of an aggressive and powerful swing,” Gallo said. “So that’s good. I feel like I’m able to get my swing off a little bit more now.”
That would be a relief for the Yankees, who have an outfield of extremes. Aaron Judge has been the best hitter in baseball this season and Aaron Hicks and Gallo struggled until recently. For Gallo, this is a two-year slump.
In his 106 games with the Yankees, Gallo is hitting .173/.296/.388 with a .684 OPS.
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