Breaking Not Good

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In today’s NY Times, Tyler Kepner relates the story of B.J. Wallace.

Wallace was one of the players taken before Derek Jeter in the 1992 MLB Draft. Selected 3rd by the Expos, Wallace had promising numbers in his first minor league season with an 11-8 record; 112 hits allowed in 137 innings; and 126 strikeouts. As a lefty, he could’ve had a career in the big leagues even had he not become a star equitable with being the 3rd pick in the draft.

He had shoulder surgery in 1994 and was out of baseball by 1996.

With those strikeout numbers and that hits/innings pitched ratio, Wallace obviously had some talent. But again, as is customary with retrospective critiques, because he and the other players taken ahead of Jeter—Phil Nevin; Paul Shuey; Jeffrey Hammonds; and Chad Mottola—aren’t and never were Jeter, their selections are considered mistakes.

So many things go into a draft choice that it can be justified by truth as much as it’s decried by history and both can be totally wrong.

Kepner cites that the Expos saved $250,000 by drafting Wallace instead of Jeter, but who knows if it was an either/or situation? Maybe they had their eyes on Nevin, Hammonds or whomever rather than a skinny high school shortstop from Michigan with the Kid ‘n Play haircut?

For the same reasons that Billy Beane was considered to be a “card-counter” and was saving money by drafting players who had no other options, were armed with verifiable college stats; full physical development; and were willing to take less money to sign, the Expos saved some money on a pitcher who clearly had some ability but got hurt.

How is that something to reference as if there was an untold amount of idiocy going on in Montreal for passing on Jeter?

The reason Wallace’s name has come up is that he was recently arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine from his home.

His name is in the paper and people know who he is, but it’s not the right section of the paper; nor is it for the reasons hoped for when he was taken ahead of Jeter.

But the two things are entirely separate and shouldn’t be connected as meaning anything. It doesn’t.

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