World Series

LaMonte Wade Jr. proving to the most reliable part of the revamped San Francisco Giants lineup

LaMonte Wade Jr. proving to the most reliable part of the revamped San Francisco Giants lineup

The Giants’ lineup has undergone its fair share of overhaul the past three seasons, and with longtime stalwarts such as Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt no longer around, San Francisco has been looking for the offensive foundation of the team’s next era. It has taken some time, and the team is still figuring out where that production will come from, but one player who has quickly become part of the solution is first baseman LaMonte Wade Jr.

So far this season, he's hitting a career-best .351 with one home run and 10 RBI. On a team now featuring Jorge Soler, Matt Chapman and Jung Hoo Lee, it’s Wade who leads the Giants in batting average, on-base percentage, walks and OPS.

Coming up in the minor leagues with the Twins, Wade was known for his uncanny ability to get on base. But after two brief cups of coffee with Minnesota in 2019 and ‘20, he was traded to San Francisco in exchange for right-hander Shaun Anderson — a trade that changed the trajectory of his career.

“I feel like it was a new opportunity for me to go out there and show what I could do,” Wade told Yahoo Sports about joining the Giants in 2021. “I always looked at it as there was a reason why they traded for me. They obviously saw something that they liked. So I took that and wanted to get better.”

After his MLB debut with the Twins in 2019, the first baseman never got consistent time on the field, appearing in a total of 42 games across 2019 and ‘20. Following the trade to San Francisco, the Giants gave Wade the opportunity to be in the lineup almost every day, and that has paid dividends. Wade broke out in 2021, slashing .253/.326.482 with 18 homers in 109 games. And following an injury-plagued ‘22, in which he missed significant time due to a knee injury, he bounced back last season with 17 homers and a .256/.373/.417 slashline.

Wade has taken his game to a new level this season, with his prolific on-base ability standing out. His .485 OBP ranks first in MLB among players with a minimum of 95 plate appearances, and he’s ninth in the league in OBP since the start of last season. For a team searching for its offensive identity, having a bat such as Wade's can make a huge difference. On Tuesday against Colorado, he delivered a two-RBI single as part of the Giants' 5-0 victory.

“I’m just glad to be on the same team,” manager Bob Melvin said of Wade with a smile. “I saw him quite a bit in [San Diego and] Oakland, too. He's just a really good hitter, and he's prepared, and he's got power. He hits the ball the other way. He walks. He's just a really, really good hitter.

“You look at the numbers this year — they're real. He's probably one of the best left-handed hitters, on-base [percentage] and all that sort of thing. … But he’s a guy that when he's at the plate and in a big situation, you feel great.”

The Giants, who sit at 16-21 and fourth in the NL West as of Wednesday, have needed every bit of Wade’s production at the plate, as their offense has stalled through the first month-plus of the season. Their minus-36 run differential is third-worst in the National League, and Wade is one of just two San Francisco hitters with an OPS above .800 (Patrick Bailey, the other, is now on the IL).

San Francisco spent big this past offseason, acquiring Lee, Soler and Chapman to revamp the offense. So far, the free-agent trio hasn’t been able to get things going. After finishing 24th in runs scored last season, the Giants rank 23rd in MLB this year. They’ll need to do better if they hope to stay afloat in the NL wild-card race.

Wade is doing his part, and being in the lineup every day — whether that’s at his usual first base or the occasional left field, right field, DH or pinch-hitting — has allowed him to become the team’s most consistent hitter. Knowing he has a home in San Francisco, the 30-year-old believes the team is starting to see the best version of himsel

“When I was 25 when I made my debut in ‘19, the game was real fast,” Wade said. “You want to go up there, and you want to hit a 10-run home run every at-bat. You don't want to make any mistakes, and you just want to try and be as perfect as you can. You don't want to keep getting sent down. You get up there, and you just want to stay.

“Now as a 30-year-old, you kind of sit back and just trust the process, trust your routine. You know you're not always gonna get the results that you're looking for. … But you know that if you stick with your process and you continue to have that throughout the whole six months [of the] season, you'll be in a pretty good spot at the end.”

Source

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button