If this was last season, Brett Wallace would not have been in the starting lineup Tuesday night. CC Sabathia was on the hill for the Yankees, and he is a left handed starter. The often referred to “book” that managers refer to dictates that Wallace being a left handed hitter would not start against Sabathia. For the record, Wallace started the game off with a well struck double.
In the past Wallace has had limited success against left handed pitching. Obviously he should get some of the blame for that, but he is still a young player who is still growing into his potential. He needs a chance.
The problem in the last few seasons, was that Brad Mills tended to manage a little on the conservative side. This hindered Wallace’s development, and under the Bo Porter regime I do not think that is something we will have to worry about any longer. But the bigger question should be, why were Wallace’s at bats limited against left handed pitching?
Taking a look back to 2012, Wallace was actually better against lefties (.273 in 55 AB) than against right handers (.247 in 174 AB). In 2010 Wallace was also better against left handed pitching. So essentially Wallace was given a raw deal by having his development and playing time limited by Mills.
This is not to say that Wallace has exactly been tearing things up thus far is his career, but he does have potential. And it seems like Porter is committed to letting him develop into the first round pick he was. Batting second and consistently being in the lineup each day will also help with Wallace’s development.
Last season Wallace had 24 RBI in 66 games for the Astros, so how will he do this year? Batting second in the American League is not as bad as the National League since the pitcher does not bat. Jose Altuve will likely be on base ahead of him and batting in front of Chris Carter should lead to Wallace seeing fastballs from opposing pitchers. That also means he will have RBI opportunities.
Verdict – Over
I am thinking this is the year that Wallace truly makes strides towards reaching his potential. Wallace should surpass 70 RBI, but not by much. The main thing, is that he will be in the lineup everyday. That means opportunity. As long as he can relax, fortify his approach, and make contact, Wallace should have a successful season. Working with new hitting coach John Mallee this offseason also seems to have suited Wallace well.
What do you think?