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.
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