Today’s Random Player from The Baseball Project That May or May Not Amount to Anything is Tim Wallach. Wallach was taken with the tenth overall pick of the 1979 draft by the Montreal Expos out of Cal State Fullerton.
He made his major league debut on September 6, 1980 in San Francisco. His first time up he drew a walk. His second time up he homered making him the 55th player ever to homer in his first official at-bat.
It have always found this to be a fascinating list, players who homered in their first at-bat. There’s 121 of them. For 22 of those players that was the only homerun they ever hit. Only two of the 121 reached the Hall of Fame – Earl Averill is one, Hoyt Wilhelm is the other. Jay Bell and Bert Campaneris both did it, and both later would lead the league in sacrifice bunts. Will Clark’s first at-bat was famously in the Astrodome against Nolan Ryan. The player with the most homeruns on that list? Gary Gaetti of course, with 360. Like I said, it’s a fascinating list.
He started getting regular playing time in 1981, Montreal’s only playoff run. By 1982 he was the team’s everyday third baseman, replacing the traded Larry Parrish. In 1982 he posted a 115 OPS+ for the Expos with 28 homers and 31 doubles. In 1984 he made his first All-Star team. In 1987 he finished fourth in the MVP voting, hitting .298/.343/.514 (121 OPS+) with a league leading 42 doubles. Two years later hit would hit 42 more to lead the league. Overall from 1982 through 1992 he hit .260/.318/.420 (105 OPS+), made five All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves.
But things in Montreal were starting to go south. The arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays took the Expos from the only team in the country to second fiddle. Trading away future Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Tim Raines and losing Andre Dawson to free agency wasn’t helping matters. Wallach became the next casualty, traded to the Dodgers for Tim Barker, a middle infielder who never reached the majors despite a lifetime .372 OBP in 3,919 minor league plate appearances.
That may sound bad, but Wallach was 35 at the time, coming off of his worst season in Montreal. In 1993 he posted a 68 OPS+. He rebounded in 1994 hitting .280/.356/.502 win 113 games before the strike took away the season. After the 1995 season he signed with California Angels, a team who collapsed in the final month of the season to choke away a playoff spot. He wasn’t going to get things turned around though, and after 57 game he was released. A week later he resigned with the Dodgers and didn’t fare much better. After a 0-for-11 showing in NLDS against the Braves, Wallach called it quits.
Wallach is still the Expos/Nationals all-time leader in total bases, hits, and RBI. He’s also in the franchise’s top ten in walks, doubles, triples, homers, and fWAR. His HOFR of 44.70 drops him well short of Hall of Fame consideration, but he was a fine player at a time when the Expos were churning out talent as well as any franchise has.
He currently is Don Mattingly’s bench coach in Miami. He has three sons, all of which were drafted. Matt was a catcher and first baseman in the Dodgers organization, hanging up his cleats in 2013. Brett was a pitcher in the Dodgers and Cubs organizations before wrapping up his career with Grand Prairie in the independent American Association in 2015. Chad has been a catcher in the Marlins and Reds organizations and is currently in Louisville (AAA).