With the Major League season at its halfway point, and the Jays quickly running away from the playoff hunt, it’s time to look at the top man in their minor league system and see if there’s room to work him into the everyday line-up in The Bigs. This would of course be Brett Wallace, acquired in the Roy Halladay trade this off-season in a three-way deal involving Philadelphia and Oakland. Brett started his pro career at third base, but was moved to first base to start the season in order to mitigate his defensive shortcomings. This also works out nicely for the Jays because the only one in Wallace’s way is the incumbent Lyle Overbay.
Overbay has been a Blue Jay since 2006, and hopefully Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos makes this year his last. Praised for his defensive abilities (all too often by the Jays’ commentators) he has actually been a below average defender so far this year with a UZR of -1.5, which doesn’t make him a laughing stock, but also doesn’t make up for his below-average .320 wOBA, or (almost exactly average) .334 park-adjusted wOBA. But when you consider that he’s playing the most “hitter-friendly” position, average just doesn’t cut it. So if Overbay is an average to below-average player, is Wallace an upgrade?
Brett Wallace has produced a solid .300/.362/.503 triple-slash in AAA Las Vegas, but with the Pacific Coast League being hitter-friendly we need to take these stats with a grain of salt. Thanks to StatCorner, though, we have a park-adjusted wOBA for Wallace, and it is an above-average .361 wOBA. Expecting it to drop when he goes to the majors, Wallace still projects to be an average hitter and at least as good a hitter as Overbay has been so far this year. Throw in the hitter — and especially HR — friendly nature of the Rogers Center, and Wallace could be a fairly productive player in the Jays’ power-hitting line-up. While it will be hard for Wallace to keep his batting average at the .300 mark, having a 23.2% line-drive rate in the minors just reeks of above-average BABIP (if he keeps it up) which should help him to a sustainable .270-280 avg at the Major League level.
The only problem now is getting rid of Lyle Overbay. The Jays are looking to be big sellers at the deadline, with John Buck, Alex Gonzalez and Lyle Overbay himself being UFAs. All three of these guys should be moveable to teams with a weakness at thin positions (Catcher and Shortstop). Overbay has also been hitting better as the season progresses and could look like an attractive and cheap option for a team like Tampa Bay who is lacking at the DH spot, or a NL contender such as the Reds (as a world series DH) or the Giants. He could conceivably bring in a B- or C+ prospect, depending on how much of his salary the Jays are willing to pick up. With the Giants also lacking at shortstop, the Jays could package the two together and try to pry away a high-level prospect from them, although a Bumgarner is probably out of the question.
All in all, the Jays should actively be looking to shop Overbay ASAP and give Wallace a good long look this season to see if he can cut it at the major league level, and thus get a better idea of where the organization is at moving forward