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Washington Nationals news & notes: Joey Gallo on not being pull-happy again in 2024…

Notes and quotes on the Nationals’ new slugger…

Joey Gallo, by his own admission, got a little bit too pull-happy last season, like 57.9% Pull% vs a 48.4% career average and a 37.0% league average pull-happy. Swinging for the fences with Minnesota’s Twins, Gallo, who signed a 1-year/$5M deal in D.C. this winter, hit 21 home runs on the year in 2023, the majority of them, obviously, to the right of center field for the left-hand hitting slugger.

Spray chart via Fangraphs.com

“You definitely know when it’s going on,”Gallo said when asked about trying to pull everything last season. “It’s tough to fix. I think a lot of times people think you can just go in a cage and everything is fixed. And when you’re doing something every day you kind of get into a rhythm and get into a habit, and it’s hard to break that habit sometimes.”

Gallo did try to make adjustments, as he worked behind the scenes. While he did strike out a ton, he did takes his walks as well.

Gallo’s 13.5% BB% in 2023 was 13th best amongst MLB hitters who had at least 300 plate appearances (Gallo 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 332 PAs) which led all hitters with at least 300 PAs.

Some of the negatives there, he noted, were a result of too much tinkering with his approach.

“So, for me I thought last year I was trying so much stuff, and I really wanted to start using the whole field,” he said, “… but sometimes it takes an offseason to reset and get back where you need to go, so for me that’s kind of where I’m at now.

“But I definitely knew I was striking out way too much. I don’t like to look exactly how much I am, until maybe after the season, but yeah, it’s something you’re always aware of.”

This winter, the 30-year-old slugger said, he’s focused on hitting the ball to all fields again and cutting down on the Ks.

“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 explained. “And it seemed like last year I started off that way, and maybe fell into some bad habits or whatnot and I 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. So it’s about just getting my direction back, narrow up a little bit, kind of hit how I used to maybe a few years ago.”