I've seen Brett Wallace play three times this month. And in an effort to get a closer look at his defense, I arranged an opportunity to watch him take pregame fielding practice from at Raley Field, home of the River Cats. To be honest, I viewed him through a very critical lens. I was looking for any bit of evidence that he couldn't stick at third base. He didn't give me much to work with, though.
Wallace has very soft hands and reads the ball well off the bat. Despite being a big kid, he's surprisingly agile. His footwork is exceptional. His arm didn't blow me away but it got the job done.
He has worked tirelessly at his third base defense. And some people who have spent a good amount of time around him only have glowing things to say about his makeup.
When I saw Wallace play first base at the beginning of the month, he offered a prime example of why people doubt his defense. A batter hit a popup down the line and over his head. He wasn't able to chase it down and watching him spin around and run after the ball wasn't pretty.
He's not going to make a lot of plays when he's ranging to his left. I haven't seen him field many bunts or soft hits where he has to run in, but I'd be surprised if he could display average range in those types of situations. Similarly, he isn't a defender who I'd expect to make many dazzling plays to his right. Really, if Wallace is fielding anything that's more than a stride or two away from his body, he's not going to have a very good chance of getting to it.
If there's a way that Brett Wallace can stick at third base, Brett Wallace will make it happen.
It's very unlikely that he'll be a career third baseman in the big leagues, but he wouldn't be a liability at the position if the A's called him up today. I could see him spending a couple seasons at the hot corner, provided that the A's are willing to take a bit of a defensive hit. Expect him to spend the bulk of his career at first base or designated hitter.
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