Brett Wallace and The Doubters

I am usually in pretty exact agreement with Nathaniel Stoltz in reference to prospect potential, but do take exception at his criticism of Brett Wallace and that of other similar doubters. Nathaniel recently included Brett on his hot shots list within his This Week in Prospects column on Call to the Pen, but had this to say about him:

“I’m not a big Wallace fan. To be a great first baseman in this league, you have to have great plate discipline and power. It’s tough to be an elite-level hitter (like a first baseman should be) without having both of those skills. Last year, Wallace only walked 47 times and posted a .162 Isolated Power, far below those marks.”

I would point Nathaniel to a story I wrote on just how dominant Brett Wallace has been and how dominant he will become while I was still off on my own at Blue Jays Daze. As for the Isolated Power numbers, I wouldn’t worry too much about it for a couple of reasons. First, as shown in my article above, Brett has been fairly young for every level he achieved, so he has had to deal with acclimatizing to each level. Second, so long as he’s getting on base at such a high rate and maintaining a high average, I’m positive the Jays will make do with “only” 26 doubles and 20+ HRs.

Listen, there’s a reason Baseball America’s staff had Brett ranked 27th overall in ALL prospect rankings and had his bat rated at 70 out of a possible 80 points. He has a ton of power and can match that power with a great average and OBP, something that is very rare to find in baseball. If you think for a second that he won’t be nailing the huge gaps in Toronto’s Rogers Centre for a ton of doubles, you’re mistaken. Brett uses the whole field, has power to all fields, and forces opposing pitchers to give him pitches to hit. Throw him into a lineup with Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill, and Adam Lind, and he’ll be more than able to find more pitches to hit than he’s seen with his offensively challenged minor league teams while with St-Louis and Oakland.

I’m an absolutely huge Brett Wallace fan and believe that he’ll be the best addition the Jays make to their lineup in 2010. He has the bat to bring their performance to a new level and should help form a formidable middle of the lineup. I’m not sure what he’ll have to do to prove the doubters wrong, but I’m positive that it won’t take long for many of these to become believers once he make it to The Show. They Jays have always believed in him, the majority of scouts and analysts believe he is an awesome bat – hence being involved in trades that include some of the biggest names in MLB – and the time is coming up for him to prove himself.

Between waiting to see Brett and JP Arencibia in Toronto, and Adeiny Hechavarria‘s debut in Dunedin, Jays fans have a lot to pay attention to these days. That’s always a sign of good….no, great things to come. Jays fans should disregard the doubters and look forward to Brett’s arrival, as it should make the Jays a whole lot better very quickly.

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Tags: Aaron Hill Adam Lind Adeiny Hechavarria Brett Wallace Vernon Wells

  • Nathaniel Stoltz

    Hey Mat,

    Just thought I’d put my comments in context a bit…

    I don’t think it’s fair to say Wallace was all that young for his levels last year. Sure, the majority of AAA players are older than 23, but the majority of top prospects are in the 22-24 range. When I talk about age relative to level, I’m usually comparing a prospect to other legit prospects, not everyone at the level.

    Sure, I was a bit worried about Wallace coming into the year. Not that he wouldn’t be a good player, but I just didn’t see why everyone thought he was a top prospect. Bat-only guys tend to need to slug over .500 to be “top prospects,” and Wallace wasn’t doing that, so I was puzzled as to what the fuss was about.

    Obviously, he’s taking a big step toward eliminating my concerns, hence his inclusion on Hot Shots this week. I do worry about that environment in Las Vegas inflating his numbers, however.

    I see Wallace in his peak as an Aubrey Huff sort of player without the defensive flexibility. A potential .300 hitter with 25-30 homer power, but not a perennial All-Star or a guy that’s going to age especially well.

    But hey, the great thing about prospects is how many different ways you can analyze a player. No matter how good we get at it, sometimes we’re going to be wrong. Time will tell.

    Hope that clears it up…


  • Mat Germain

    I always like the differences in opinion because it makes us look at this from both sides, so that’s why I brought it up the way I did. Doig so forced me to re-read what I had said about him in new light and to try to see his flaws, because all hitters have flaws or weaknesses. I still think that in this case you understate Wallace’s power. It’s not even the end of April and he has 8 already, so I don’t think we can say that he would hit only 25 to 30. I actually believe that 40 is within reach so long as MLB pitchers don’t have the same luck with getting him out as they do right now with Travis Snider. The difference between Snider and Wallace is that the latter got the chance to grow as a hitter in the minors, whereas Travis was thrown into the fire too early. Therefore, I think Brett will come up at the prudent age, without being rushed into things, and will be more successful off the bat as a result. Hence the Braun comparison I made on Blue Jays Daze.

    I’m pretty sure we’ll get to relive this at some point Nathaniel, it should be fun to review our opinions and see how far off we were!



    • Nathaniel Stoltz

      I wouldn’t rush to a 40-HR projection just because of one hot month in one of the 20 most hitter-friendly parks in the minors, and 3 most hitter-friendly in AAA (along with Albuquerque and CSP).

      Honestly, I think Brian Dopirak is more likely to hit 40 at the big league level than Wallace, although Wallace is a more complete hitter. Then again, as Aaron Hill shows, power can develop late, so power projections are tough to nail down.

      I ranked Wallace as #42 prospect in baseball last July, FYI. Guess we’ll see what happens.