Has Brett Wallace finally turned the corner?
To say Brett Wallace got off to a rough start in 2013 would be a drastic understatement. After managing only one hit and striking out a mind-boggling 17 times in his first 26 at-bats, the Astros starting first-baseman was demoted to AAA. Then, as he has been known to do, Wallace posted outstanding numbers at Oklahoma City.
A .326/.398/.554 slash line in 59 games earned Wallace another shot with the Astros. And since his return the former first round draft pick has been (to steal a line from Dan Patrick) dare I say… en fuego.
Since being recalled on June 25th Wallace has gone 17 for 55 (.309) with four homers and 13 RBIs in 16 games. I know this is a small sample size but such a drastic turnaround has generated some excitement amongst Wallace fans. I mean… he has been flat out raking. But can he keep it up? Has Wallace finally turned the corner, or is he destined for another drop-off?
Brett Wallace (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Over the last three seasons no one has toyed with the hearts of Astros fans quite like Brett Wallace has. A couple of years ago Wallace got off to a nice start before slumping for most of the summer. He was eventually sent to AAA Oklahoma City where he seemingly put his swing back together. At that point the #freeBrettWallace campaign was launched. Fans of the young infielder took to Twitter and other social media outlets lobbying for Wallace’s return to Houston. They got their wish, sort of, as Wallace was called up in September. But Brett didn’t see a lot of playing time down the stretch.
Then came the 2012 season. Wallace started the year at AAA and, once again, produced outstanding offensive numbers. When he was eventually called up, Wallace had a fantastic two weeks while filling in for the injured Carlos Lee, but was then sent right back down to OKC. At the end of July he was called up to stay and continued to produce. But his numbers fell off pretty drastically over the last month of the season — begging the question: can Wallace remain productive at the big league level for an extended period of time?
That question has yet to be answered, but I think we are about to find out. At 26 years of age it is time for Wallace to prove himself. The Astros should give Brett a good long look during the second half of the season in order to make a determination on his future with the franchise. I expect Carlos Pena to be traded soon, clearing the way for Wallace and Chris Carter to hold down the 1B/DH positions on an everyday basis.
Wallace was a monster at Arizona State, earning back-to-back Pac-10 Player of the Year Awards in 2007 and 2008 before being drafted 13th overall by Jeff Luhnow and the Cardinals. But many scouts have said that he is overrated and has too many holes in his swing, especially on inside pitches.
Wallace has obviously been working diligently to fine tune his approach at the plate. We are about to find out if that work is going to pay off or if he is doomed to be a career “AAAA player”.