Padres corner infielder and pinch-hitter Brett Wallace has now been on Earth for three decades. A consensus top-40 prospect in all of baseball before the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the thirteenth overall pick of the 2008 draft has found his niche as a bench player for a team whose main objective is securing a high draft pick next summer. That's not a knock; higher draft selections have accomplished much less than Wallace has. Besides, there are worse things in life than hitting .196 for a floundering major league ballclub; for instance he could be typing a blog post on his phone because his wifi isn't working, suspecting that his roommate spent the bill money on drugs.
Wallace took a circuitous route to San Diego. The Cardinals' top pick in 2008, he was sent packing barely a year later in their trade with Oakland for Matt Holliday. He was a member of four organizations in a 370-day span, going from the A's to the Blue Jays for Michael Taylor, then to Houston for Anthony Gose. It was with the Astros that he made his major league debut in 2010; he spent the next four seasons bouncing between Houston and their AAA affiliate before being released in the spring of 2014. Wallace then spent all of that season in AAA, split between the Baltimore and Toronto organizations, before signing an unheralded minor league deal with San Diego prior to the 2015 season.
He hit well for the Padres' AAA affiliate, which isn't really a big deal because that's just what people do in El Paso. But here's the thing: He got called up and kept raking. He did even better, in fact. Wallace batted .305/ .380/ .460 with 13 doubles and eight homers in 271 plate appearances over 61 games with the Chihuahuas, then came up in mid-June and hit .302/ .374/ .521 with six doubles and five home runs in 107 trips to the plate spread out over 64 games with the big club. He was even better in a pinch, putting up a .349/ .440/ .698 line, with three of his doubles and four of his homers coming in his 50 pinch-hitting appearances. All of this earned him a major league contract for 2016 worth a cool million dollars.
That brings us to now and that .196 batting average I mentioned earlier. He has paired it with a .324 OBP, which is right on part with the major league average of .322. However, he's slugging a mere .337 in his 238 plate appearances, backed by ten doubles and six home runs; this falls considerably short of the league average of .419. Wallace's perceived prowess in a pinch seems to have been a mirage, as he's hitting just .222/ .317/ .222 in 41 such situations. As for his defense... well, as for his defense, it might just be best to see if he can figure this pinch-hitting thing out again.
This seems a bit scathing, and came out more heavy-handed than I had anticipated, so let me emphasize that I really am a fan of the guy; I hope he can finish the season out strong and earn himself a spot on someone's major league roster in 2017. But before that, I hope he has a happy birthday. Just staying alive for 30 years is an impressive accomplishment; being one of the best 750 people in your line of work when you hit that milestone is a cherry on the top.