I’ve been taking my daughter to the pool to learn how to swim. Yes, your Son isn’t just a son of a Son who has a son himself. #GirlDad and proud of it! Anyways, she is so far from swimming, the same way I have no chance of replicating the feats I see while watching the Olympics. Gotta start somewhere, though. Getting into the water is no problem but dunking her head underwater or floating on her back is not on the agenda. So, the teacher just says to have her wade around in the shallow end to just get her comfortable being in the water. And wade we did and wade we do. It’s been about a week and she can now put her head underwater for a sec and float on her back a little bit with assistance. Incremental improvement which will hopefully portend for great things ahead. LaMonte Wade Jr. of the San Francisco Giants has been a sneaky source of fantasy production and has been added in 13.3% of ESPN leagues recently. Shoutout to Vlad Sedler, high-stakes guru over at Elite Fantasy who’s been on Wade for a few weeks now. Will this Wade lead to more or is it time to exit the pool and take a shower?

Wade is 27 years old, 6′ 1″, 205 pounds, and bats from the left side. The Twins selected him in the ninth round of the 2015 MLB draft. Throughout his minor league career, Wade showed excellent plate discipline with some speed and middling pop. He had a high of seven home runs in 201 plate appearances and stole 12 bases in 284 plate appearances in rookie ball. The walk and strikeout rates were often in the adolescent range while the batting average was near .300.

In 2019, he made the Show and had a .196/.348/.375 slash in 69 plate appearances. The BABIP was only .200 but the ISO was .179. The walk rate was 15.9% while the strikeout rate was 13%. The following season, he racked up 44 plate appearances and had a .231/.318/.308 slash with a .077 ISO, 9.1% walk rate, and 20.5% strikeout rate.

So, meh.

He was traded to the Giants in February of 2021 then Farhan Zaidi and crew worked their magic. Since Zaidi took over, there’s been a philosophical shift. Swing for the fences because home runs are way more valuable than singles. Duh. No risk it, no biscuit. The Giants are now 1st in ISO against RHP and 10th against LHP while being 4th and 21st in strikeouts respectively.

Zaidi obviously saw something in Wade then put Donnie Ecker, Justin Viele, and Dustin Lind to work.

So far in 171 plate appearances, Wade is slashing .264/.349/.581 with a whopping .318 ISO. The walk rate has ticked down but is still 9.9% while the strikeout rate is 21.6%. He has 12 home runs, 25 runs, 27 RBI, and three stolen bases.

Let’s dig in.

The first thing that stands out is that he is now pulling the ball 48.2% of the time. With the Twins, that number was often in the low 40% range. The Statcast numbers also jump off the page. The average exit velocity is 91.2 mph after being in the mid-to-high 88 mph range with the Twins. The max exit velocity is 109.3 mph, a 3 mph increase. The launch angle has gone from the teens to 19.3 degrees. Wade is now barreling the ball 10.5% after never being higher than 4%.

Looking at the plate discipline numbers gets me all tingly inside. The swinging-strike rate is only 7.6% and the contact rate in the zone is 91.9%. The chase rate is 25.1% but the bigger change is seen in the strike zone swing percentage. That number is 70.1% after being at 60% or below with the Twins.

Translation: He’s waiting for his pitch and swinging with gusto when he gets it. Such a novel concept!

Wade bats leadoff for a Giants team that is 8th in runs scored. Now, before you start cannonballing into the deep end, there are some potential issues. First, he struggles against lefties. He has 21 plate appearances against them this season and has not notched a hit! In fact, in his brief career, he hasn’t gotten a hit against a lefty in 35 plate appearances. Second, Brandon Belt should be returning soon which will move him off first base. That said, he did play in left and right field and batted leadoff when Belt was in the lineup during a 12-game stretch. There’s still some uncertainty. A good buddy of mine, who happens to be a Giants fan….Wait, how can this heathen be a good buddy of mine? Anyways, he told me that the return of Belt won’t matter for Wade and that the Giants love what Wade brings for the top of the lineup. Shoutout to you, Zeya.

I love the profile for Wade, and it makes me want to puke, but I do agree with my buddy who is a Giants fan. As long as he bats leadoff for San Francisco, then…..TREASURE

  1. Harley Earl says:

    I love Wade too, but if he can’t hit lefties, he’s doomed. He’ll never play everyday and can only be a bench bat.

    • Son

      Son says:

      I hear ya. The sample size is tiny and the Giants have been throwing him out there against lefties. With his profile, I think he has the capacity to be competent against them. We shall see.

      • Harley Earl says:

        He’s a really nice player. I like him a lot. I hope he makes it.

  2. Mike Honcho says:

    Trash or Treasure?

    All are free agents in my 12 teamer.
    Rank in order of FAAB priority.

    • Son

      Son says:

      Houck. End of story

  3. Norman Ginsberg says:

    Three days ago, I grabbed Lamont, but Conforto now became available in waivers. Who should I want ROS?

    • Son

      Son says:

      Wade for me

  4. Mr. Hooper

    Mr. Hooper says:

    Another good one, Son! Now I’ve got a conundrum for you.

    My 1B/CI has been a disaster all year (Voit, Moose) so I’ve been down the Belt/Wisdom/Wade/BBradley road. Current CI-eligible players on the roster are:
    Suarez, who I just grabbed at the expense of Bradley
    Devers, thank god.

    I had and then dropped Wade during earlier portions of this carousel, and now he is unavailable. The current CI options on the wire are uninspiring or hurt or both: Sano, Hiura, Villar, Arraez, Longoria, Wilmer Flores, B Anderson.

    Tatis, Devers, and excellent SP have carried me ahead of the field in a 5×5 roto league, so I’m really only deficient in homers and average offensively. Voit will play 1B when he returns next week, but what do we do about the corner? Wisdom? Suarez in the hopes that he belts enough bombs to win back what he gives up in average? Or is he totally cooked? Kiner has been the guy for most of the season but his skid has been profound.

    Both cats have a pretty tight middle grouping that I’m a part of, so I’d be able to grab a few more points and put this season away if things break right. Any bright ideas here?

  5. Son

    Stan Son says:

    Longoria for me. May have to wait a week though

  6. Nice write-up!

    A couple notes–

    Wade’s parents flew in for the game last night and he took a Golden Sombrero. That’s not fantasy relevant, but as a dad I’ll say that’s gotta hurt.

    Second, Wade hit two foul balls off his leg against Blake Treinen on his last AB and left the game. The way the Giants have been treating the roster, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wade went on the IL to make room for somebody coming off the IL. They have a bunch of folks coming off very soon–B. Crawford, Tommy LaStella, Aaron Sanchez, to name a few. Belt isn’t ready yet, but the infield’s gonna get crowded, and the outfield already has a bunch of people in it. I picked up Wade to cover for Santander while he’s got Covid. We’ll see. Maybe it won’t be an issue.

    I think he’s a treasure, though. Great makeup. He’ll improve.

    • Son

      Son says:

      Good stuff. Didn’t know about the rents at the game but did see he fouled balls off his legs. My initial thoughts were to fade Wade too as the Giants get healthy but there’s room in the outfield and they seem to like him a lot. We shall see. I did trade for him so if he falters, I apologize in advance.

  7. Saint says:

    Always enjoy your Trash/Treasure insights. I grabbed O’Neill (for the second time) after the break and promised myself I would ride him until the end this time. Of course he has gone ice again and I’m considering grabbing Wade. O’Neill is still the 73rd ranked bat on the season long player rater and would hate to see him catch a streak again.

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated

    • Son

      Son says:

      I like Wade’s profile too much. If he becomes a platoon bat, then I’d pivot to O’Neal though

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