He's a captive audience, given that it's his job to watch the games. But Rocco Baldelli says he particularly looks forward to witnessing Joey Gallo's at-bats anyway, and for an obvious, if indelicate, reason.

"Everyone likes the strong man at the circus who can do stuff that no one else can do," the Twins manager said. "That's honestly it — he can do things no one else can do. [People] watch for the winning. But otherwise, we're watching for the amazing things."

Gallo knows from experience that people can't turn away from a three-car pileup, either. So he is delighted, one month into his career rehabilitation with the Twins, that he has been captivating for the right reasons.

And there are a lot of them.

When Gallo makes contact this year, he hits it hard — an average of 97.5 miles per hour, according to MLB's StatCast analysis, or harder than any other player in the game, and he exceeds 95 mph exit velocity on 72.7% of his balls put in play, also more than any other major leaguer. A ball hit by Gallo travels 242 feet on average, and yes, he's MLB's Paul Bunyan in that category, too.

Gallo also hit .236 in April, which might not sound like much, but it's better than any start he's had in his six-year career except 2019, and so is his gaudy .709 slugging percentage. The latter would rank second in the major leagues (behind former Twins outfielder Brent Rooker, who has been on a tear for Oakland) if Gallo hadn't missed 10 days because of an intercostal strain, and helps give him a team-best 1.063 OPS.

His seven home runs are tied with Byron Buxton (in 43 fewer trips to the plate) for the Twins' lead, and his 14 RBI trail only Trevor Larnach and Buxton.

"Yeah, it's been really good. I had some home runs that helped us win some games, kind of what I hoped I could bring," said the 29-year-old Gallo, who signed a one-year, $11 million contract with the Twins in December. "I made some adjustments to clean up my swing and I'm feeling good at the plate. I feel like when things start going your way, your confidence helps you get on a roll."

Vice versa, too, as Gallo well knows after a disastrous 2022 with the Yankees and Dodgers that left him with a .160 average and an OPS half of what it is now. It has only been a month, and hot-and-cold is the nature of the game, the slugger is quick to point out, but this season doesn't feel at all like that one.

In fact, it reminds another interested observer of a different year.

"His best stretch was probably the first half of 2019, and he's playing very close to that," said Jayce Tingler, who coached Gallo with the Rangers that season, Gallo's first All-Star season. "He looks really dangerous at the plate. You feel good every time he comes up. Swinging at the right pitches, taking pitches outside the zone, doing damage on the pitches he's looking for."

And yes, missing some too, though not as many as in the past. Gallo's strikeout rate, which reached an alarming 39.8% last season, is at 33.9% at the moment, much more manageable for someone whose contact is so prodigious. In fact, with 22 whiffs in 19 games, it's a career low.

"I'm not happy, still, with the strikeouts, but that's something that I have come to grips with. I'm going to strike out a lot and I'm not going to hit for a high average," he said. "So walks are big for me, and hitting the ball hard is big for me. I was able to do what my skill set is in the first month."

He's also impressed the Twins with his fielding, not surprising for a two-time Gold Glove outfielder — except he's played the outfield only four times, while being stationed at first base in 18 games. From 2019 to 2022 he played one inning at first.

"Joey is agile and he's smart, I'm not surprised he's played so well in the infield," Tingler said. "His reach, how long he is, it feels like we're getting a lot of bang-bang plays."

Added Baldelli, "He's likely the best defensive first baseman in the American League."

Gallo says he misses the outfield and wouldn't mind more time out there, but he has enjoyed the transition back to the infield. As a minor league third baseman, he knows the value of his ability to scoop errant throws out of the dirt.

"I take pride helping the infielders out," he said. "I know how much the other infielders appreciate it."

Safe to say, so far plenty of Twins have appreciated how much Gallo has helped.