On Thursday, Everyone's Favorite Whipping Boy was sent to the minors. Brett Wallace may not have had a fair shake in the playing time department to bust out of his epic slump, but he wasn't playing in the majors. Players in a slump need to play to break out of it. It's a scientific fact.
Because Mr. Wallace is once again headed to Triple-A, I thought it'd be enlightening to look back over his time in Houston to see just how volatile a ride it's been. Come with me on a fascinating journey of chances, second chances and even third chances.
July 29, 2010: Wallace traded to Houston for center fielder Anthony Gose
As a kicker to the Roy Oswalt swap with Philadelphia, Houston spun toolsy outfielder Anthony Gose up to Toronto for Wallace. The No. 27 prospect heading into that 2010 season, Wallace had already been traded twice before. He headlined a trade of Matt Holliday from Oakland to St. Louis, where Jeff Luhnow drafted him and developed him for a year.
Wallace was then traded again in December 2009 from Oakland to Toronto for outfielder Michael Taylor. There he sat until Houston came calling. Wallace hit .301/.359/.505 for Triple-A Las Vegas with the Blue Jays before being traded. That was not out of line with his minor league production in 2008 or 2009, though the slugging percentage was up about 50 points from where it was in 2009.
July 31, 2010: Wallace makes his major league debut
After the trade, Wallace went straight to the big leagues and was installed as the starter at first base. Houston had just flipped incumbent first baseman Lance Berkman to New York and needed a fill-in.
Wallace hit an underwhelming .222/.296/.319 in 51 games in the majors that season. He hit two home runs and had nine extra-base hits total. Oh, and he also struck out 31 percent of the time. That's a theme we will revisit.
April 1, 2011: Wallace makes his first Opening Day start
On Opening Day 2011, Wallace became the 21st player to start at first base for the Astros to open the season. He was also the third in three seasons after Lance Berkman and Geoff Blum.
Wallace went 1 for 4 on the day, a 5-4 loss at Philadelphia. He scored a run after leading off the seventh with a line drive single off J.C. Romero. He crossed the plate thanks to a Michael Bourn triple.
July 31, 2011: Wallace is sent to the minors along with Chris Johnson
Yeah, the train went off the rails here. Houston's next great first baseman was back in the minors by the end of July. Wallace blistered the ball in April to the tune of .388/.458/.529, but saw his averages drop every single month after that.
Wallace ended up hitting .268/.345/.370 in his 359 plate appearances in the majors. He added four home runs, 22 doubles and struck out 84 times in 359 plate appearances. That's a K rate of 23.3 percent.
September 2, 2011: Wallace is recalled when rosters expand
In his return to the majors, Wallace got three starts and 20 total plate appearances. He hit .105/.150/.263 with one home run and seven strikeouts. Pretty much the norm for Wally, huh?
April 1, 2012: Wallace optioned to the minors out of spring training
One of the last cuts in camp last spring, Wallace was sent to Oklahoma City in favor of shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, who was a surprise add to the club. He would continue to rake down there, hitting over .300 against Triple-A pitching before getting called up in June after Carlos Lee was put on the disabled list in June. Wait, though, that's getting ahead of ourselves.
June 3, 2012: Wallace called up when Lee put on DL
An injury sidelined Houston's regular first baseman, so the front office pulled its Triple-A first baseman up to replace him. It didn't hurt that Wally hit the cover off the ball in the minors and then did the same in his 11-game stint in the majors.
Wallace hit .333/.429/.583 in those 11 games with two home runs and three doubles in 42 plate appearances. Oh, and there were the 14 strikeouts, good for a rate of 33 percent. At least he's consistent in his not-contact-making.
June 17, 2012: Wallace demoted to minors...again
A slight controversy here, as Wallace is demoted again, not for what he did, but because of a roster crunch. Players don't lose jobs for being injured, even if Brett Wallace looks like a monster hitter. He goes back to OKC and mashes again, making fans cry for his call-up to fix the offensive struggles of those horrible June/July months.
Oh, and he also caused a minor stir by playing some shortstop. And losing a bunch of weight.
July 30, 2012: Wallace recalled following Chris Johnson trade
Brett Wallace does not in fact fix the offense. He is recalled to play on the infield when Chris Johnson was sent to Arizona. He starts 49 games, mostly at first base, but he didn't hit like he did the first time. In his second stint, Wallace hit .238/.308/.394 with seven homers in 212 plate appearances. He also struck out at a 27.8 percent rate.
March 31, 2013: Wallace makes his second Opening Day roster
Some tweaks to his swing made Wallace a fixture on the Opening Day roster for a second year. Instead of giving the start to either of two newly acquired players like Chris Carter or Carlos Pena, Houston went with Wallace here for the second time.
In his second Opening Day assignment, Wallace went 1 for 4 again with a run scored. This time he added three strikeouts because of course he did.
April 18, 2013: Wallace sent back to minors
Which leads us to where we are now. Wallace back in the minors. Will he be back again, to strike out or to hit the cover off the ball? Or maybe to do both at the same time?
If he's not, Wallace certainly can lay claim to one of the bumpiest brief tenures on the Astros that I can remember. Two Opening Day starts and multiple mid-season trips to the minors usually don't coexist. I guess he'll make a great trivia question in 10 years.