Gallo reflects on his difficult season with Twins

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. – Joey Gallo tries not to pay attention to his stats last season because it's hard enough to hit without focusing on them.

With the Twins, his playing time dwindled in August and he was left off the postseason roster. He says he was genuinely surprised his numbers weren't worse. He lived through a summer-long slump and the disappointment of not performing to his expectations.

"It's not always going to go great," said Gallo, now with the Nationals. "I mean, there is no ill will. I'm at peace with what happened. I wish I performed better for the team and that city, but I am still proud of what we did as a unit."

Gallo, who was on a one-year, $11 million contract with the Twins, finished last year with a .177 batting average and a league-average .741 OPS. He hit 21 homers, which tied for the second most on the team, but he produced only 40 RBI. The other side of his power is he struck out in 42.8% of his plate appearances.

He was not activated to the Twins' roster after a foot injury in early September.

"I totally understand what the situation was," Gallo said. "There were guys playing better than me at the time and I was on a one-year deal, too, so I wasn't inked for the future with them. They didn't really have any ties to keep playing me. It was a mutual understanding that I knew I probably wasn't going to be on the playoff roster. I worked as hard as I could to be ready if I did get called, but obviously I didn't. That's something I'll have to live with."

As Gallo stood in front of his locker Thursday, reflecting on his lone season with the Twins, the word he kept repeating to sum up his season was "strange." He helped keep the Twins' offense afloat in April when he hit .236 with seven homers and 14 RBI in 19 games.

Then it all collapsed.

He had a 57-game stretch, beginning at the end of May, in which he hit .140 with 81 strikeouts in 157 plate appearances. In 2021, Gallo was an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner. Two years later, there were times he looked borderline unplayable.

"I went through a couple of different little injuries, and tried to get back to where I was before those," said Gallo, who signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Nationals during the winter. "Obviously, you start struggling a little bit."

Gallo personified the Twins' offensive approach last year which favored power over contact. The Twins shattered MLB's all-time record for strikeouts in a season with 1,654.

"Of course, I'm on that team," Gallo cracked, briefly forgetting about the record.

There have been times in Gallo's career, he says, he tried to change his all-or-nothing approach. When he tried to cut down on his strikeouts, it often led to more strikeouts.

"Making contact is great, but if you're not doing anything with the contact, you're not making an impact," Gallo said. "That's great if you're striking out 10% of the time, but if you're not driving the ball and you're not getting hits, it doesn't really matter if you are just grounding out. That's the fine line."

The Twins, as an organization, were fine with the power over contact trade-off last year. For all their strikeouts, they led the American League in home runs and ranked second in walks.

Gallo, admittedly biased, pointed to the Twins ranking among the AL leaders in many offensive categories.

"Nobody wants to strike out," he said. "There are no hitters that are like, 'This is the way to go and let's just strikeout and try to hit bombs.' I'm not trying to do that. I obviously want to hit the ball. It's just a strange time in baseball right now in terms of how tough it is to hit. The pitching is just very, very good. I mean, if a guy is throwing 95 [mph], we're fighting for the bat rack because we want to hit. Usually, the guy is throwing 100."