It's a cliché to say that the Texas Rangers are about to have one of those good problems on their hands. In 18 games, Joey Gallo has been very effective, hitting .221/.312/.471, with five homers in 77 plate appearances. While he has struck out 31 times, he has instilled enough fear in AL pitchers that he's walking a good deal to compensate for his low batting average. The Rangers, quite understandably, want to keep their young powerhouse around.
To do that, they are prepared to get creative. Eventual Hall of Fame third baseman Adrian Beltre is back from the disabled list and, as one of the best fielders in the history of the position, he's potentially a huge asset. Especially if he's finally healthy. With both Delino Deshields Jr and Josh Hamilton on the disabled list, Gallo has been temporarily shifted to left field.
That's fine for now, but Hamilton's on his way back, starting a rehab assignment today that will surely be done in a couple weeks. DeShields should be back in early July. At that point, it will become a legitimate question whether the Rangers will want Gallo to stick around.
After all, as the strikeouts suggest, Gallo is still relatively raw at the plate. That's understandable, given that he's only 21 years old. He could use all the plate appearances he can get, and the Rangers may not be able to use him regularly at any of the corners. Hamilton will start in left field against righties while DeShields handles lefties. Beltre will handle the overwhelming amount of playing time at third, as he has done for the entirety of his career. Prince Fielder has started 69 of the team's first 71 games at either 1B or DH and, aside from last year's neck problems, has been one of the most durable players in the game for a decade. Mitch Moreland has proven himself to be a damn good hitter against right handed pitching. Gallo even hits from the same side as Hamilton, Moreland and Fielder (and right fielder Shin Soo Choo), which makes any hope of a platoon impossible.
It's simply getting harder and harder to see where Gallo fits on the Rangers as they're currently constructed. There simply aren't enough plate appearances to go around. And, to be honest, maybe giving the kid some time at Triple-A Round Rock, which he skipped entirely, isn't such a bad idea. In his last eight games, Gallo has hit .107/.194/.250 with 15 strikeouts in 31 plate appearances. Certainly, no one should write Gallo off after just eight games. Even great players have rough stretches, but Gallo's last week has definitely been extreme and suggests a player struggling mightily against major league pitching.
It's also not like they are going to trade him. Sure, the Rangers are surprisingly in the think of the AL West race, but players with Gallo's power are incredibly rare. Even for Cole Hamels, giving away Gallo would be a hard pill to swallow. Plus they need him in case the 36 year old Beltre goes down again. They'll definitely want him for 2017, after Beltre's contract expires. So, yes, the Rangers are about to have one of those good problems. But like most of them, it's one with a clear solution.