Joey Gallo's first few months in pinstripes didn't go as planned.
Sure, the slugger walloped 13 home runs with the Yankees after he was acquired prior to the trade deadline, finishing the season with 38 long balls, but he hit .160 with 88 strikeouts over just 58 games with New York.
Gallo's struggles didn't stop Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner from endorsing the outfielder this week, issuing a warning for those that will face New York in 2022.
“We got him because I loved the left-handed bat,” Steinbrenner told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post Wednesday. “I loved the personality. He’s great in the clubhouse. And he’s a great talent. He walks a lot, too, right? … Do I wish he had performed a bit better? Yes, of course. But I’m not worried. Watch him next year.”
Gallo might have posted some appalling numbers in 2021—especially after New York acquired him from the Texas Rangers—but he also demonstrated why he's one of the best outfielders in the game when he's locked in at the plate.
The swings and misses are certainly glaring and concerning, but Gallo is elite when it comes to working walks, barreling the baseball (when he does make contact) and testing the limits of Statcast with extreme exit velocity figures. He also won a Gold Glove for the second straight year, playing quality defense all year long.
Perhaps New York's new hitting coach—whoever the Yankees hire to replace Marcus Thames—will be able to unlock Gallo's swing and approach at the plate, setting him up for even more success in 2022.
Besides, even with his high strikeout numbers, Gallo still projects to hit 40-plus home runs in a full season at Yankee Stadium, perhaps even more.
Gallo is under contract for one more season, set to enter free agency this time next year.
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