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Washington Nationals news & notes: Joey Gallo and the three true outcomes...

Notes and quotes on the Nationals’ left-handed slugger...

“I don’t look at average,” Joey Gallo told reporters in an introductory Zoom call with the D.C. press corps on Monday, when he was asked what stats he looks at as he measures his own production at the plate.

“Because I want to throw up if I do,” he continued, with a self-deprecating laugh.

He posted a .177 AVG in 2023, and has not hit over .200 since 2019, so, yeah.

“So I’ve got to relax on that one.”

That’s probably a safe approach for a guy whose all or nothing walk approach at the plate has resulted in some big power numbers (40+ HRs in a season twice; 38 HRs in 2021; 21 in 2023), but also low batting averages in his career (.197 career AVG).

“For me, I’m a walk guy,” Gallo continued, noting he tends to look at his on-base percentage [OBP] and his Isolated Power [ISO] when assessing his own numbers.

Gallo’s 13.5% BB% in 2023 was 13th best amongst MLB hitters who had at least 300 plate appearances (he had 332 PAs in 111 G). He finished the year with a .301 OBP, .262 ISO (18th best among hitters league-wide), and a .440 SLG, along with a 42.8 K% (142 Ks in those 332 PAs) which led all hitters with at least 300 PAs.

“That’s my singles a lot of times is getting on base,” Gallo said.

“Drawing walks, maybe having an eight-pitch at-bat. For me, it’s on-base [percentage], OPS, things like that.

“Obviously, I would like the average to go up — it’s not like I’m against hitting a higher average — but it’s just a little hard.

“But it’s more of those stats for me, more of the stats for like a slugger.”

That too is probably a good approach for a hitter who seems to be very self-aware based on the first 20 minutes or so of interacting with reporters in D.C.

“Obviously, I am a slugger,” the 30-year-old slugger said.

“I want to be more than that. I don’t really like being known as just some strikeout/home run hitter guy. Obviously it was not really my plan growing up to be considered like this three-true-outcome guy. But it’s just the way I’ve always swung and just kind of the player I was. But I want to get back to putting the ball in play more. I thought last year I struck out too much. You’ve got to put the ball in play to make things happen too.”

A focus on just putting the ball in play, something his new manager stresses on a daily basis, will likely go over well in the nation’s capital, but Gallo has tried to take a different approach at times, and he has struggled while doing it, so he has to find the right balance.

“That’s the big ‘what if?’“ as he put it. “There [have] been times in the past where I did try to change my swing, and slow it down, and maybe not swing as hard or as aggressively. And it actually kind of backfires and goes the other way. Because then you kind of a lose a feel for who you are. And so for me it’s — I’ve had success in this league doing it this way, but I’m not stubborn enough to think: ‘This is how I have to hit. This is what I do. Don’t tell me what to do.’ I’m very open to listening to anything coaches tell me and whatnot, but I think if you try to change too much … “

Washington Nationals v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Ideally, he’d make more contact, put the ball in play more often, back up the middle, while spreading it around to all fields.

“I think a lot of my best years, I was really working the whole field more and I was using the middle of the field more,” he said. “And it seemed like last year I started off that way, and maybe fell into some bad habits and started to pull the ball a little more and got pull-happy.

“That’s never a good thing when you’re locked into one side of the field.”

Gallo signed a 1-year/$5M with the Nats this week, and he said the opportunity to play every day, and all around the field, was enticing as he looks to reestablish himself with a rebooting club trying to build a competitive roster two-plus years into the rebuilding process.

“For us it was kind of a good fit,” Gallo said of signing on with the Nationals, “… just in terms of being able to go somewhere and get to play, and get a good opportunity to get at-bats and move around the field. And also, I really like that team, too. It’s always a fun group of guys to play against; and it’s always a challenging game when you play that team. So I’m very excited about that. And obviously the opportunity is probably the biggest thing for me where I’m at in my career it’s to get at-bats and get back to where I can be and I’m just really lucky D.C. is giving me that opportunity and I’m very excited about it.”