Houston Astros first baseman Brett Wallace is off to a great start in his first full season with the team. The Astros traded with the Blue Jays last season, sending a prospect they received in the Roy Oswalt trade to Toronto for Wallace. He was given the starting first baseman job almost immediately and struggled the rest of 2010, only hitting .222 with two home runs in 51 games.
This year has been a completely different story for the 24-year-old as he is leading the Astros with a .314 batting average and a .388 OBP. With all the roster turnover over the past year for this organization, they are looking for an identity or face of the franchise.
Hunter Pence would be a great choice for the Astros to rally around but a case can be made for Brett Wallace. I have come up with some suggestions for the Astros if they want to make Wallace the face of the Houston Astros.
If they want to make Brett Wallace the face of the franchise, they need to use his face in advertising, like this banner outside Minute Maid Park with Hunter Pence. They would need to oversaturate the market with Brett Wallace to make him the face of the franchise.
They would need to have Brett Wallace Night at the ballpark, put him in radio and TV advertising and on the team's website.
Another way to make him the face of the franchise is to name him the leader in the clubhouse. This would be a very sensitive situation and have to be done very carefully or it could blow up in the Astros' face.
If Brett Wallace was to be named captain and he doesn't have the respect of his other teammates, it will divide the locker room. This in turn could ruin Wallace's confidence and in turn affect his performance.
If the Astros name Wallace team captain and it is successful, he will become the leader of the Astros and more accountable to his teammates and fans, which by default would make him the face of the Astros.
Another way to make Brett Wallace—or any player, for that matter—the face of the franchise is to get him out into the community, interacting with fans. The Houston Astros have a number of community initiatives including the Astros in Action Foundation, Astros' Urban Youth Academy and Grand Slam for Youth Baseball.
I am sure a number of Astros—if not all, including Brett Wallace—help out with these community outreach efforts but this is very important aspect to making him the face of the franchise. Younger fans will meet Brett Wallace, get an autograph, start to follow him in games and Wallace slowly will become the face of the franchise.
Brett Wallace has spent the majority of the season batting in the fifth spot for the Astros, which is fine, but if the Astros want to make him the face of the franchise they need to move him to third. This will allow him to bat ahead of Hunter Pence and he will always be up to bat in the first inning.
This would provide him with more RBI opportunities having Michael Bourn and Clint Barmes hitting in front of him. When most fans discuss a player's worth, one of the first things they discuss is how many runs he knocks across.
By having Wallace hit fifth he doesn't have as many opportunities for RBI because he is either second up in the second inning or Pence and Lee have been clearing the bases before he gets up.
The Astros are one of the worst teams in the majors and will most likely only have one representative for the All-Star Game this summer. The Astros currently have a story on the front page of their website, directing fans to vote for Astros players for the All-Star Game.
If the Astros want to make Wallace the face of the franchise, they need to single him out and tell fans to vote for Wallace to get him to the All-Star Game. Since he would be the only the Astro at the game he will become the face of the franchise not just for Astros fans, but the rest of the fans around Major League Baseball.
When the Astros traded away Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, the casual fan of MLB probably couldn't name another Astro on the team. So by getting Wallace to the All-Star Game, they can showcase one of their players and fans would start to associate Brett Wallace and Houston Astros.
If the Astros want to make Brett Wallace the face of the franchise they will need to show the fans they are making a commitment to him. The best way to do this is to invest in the young first baseman with a long-term contract.
This option would be very unlikely since he has only had a good two months and hasn't even had a full season with the club yet. Also the Astros got a new owner and I don't think his first order of business will be to hand out lucrative long-term deals.