One name that’s beginning to gain helium in the world of fantasy baseball is Giants 1B/OF LaMonte Wade Jr. The 29-year-old, after a rough 2022 campaign, is once again healthy and showcasing pop that Giants fans became accustomed to during his rookie season in 2021. But, should you be tempted to pick up Wade Jr.? Let’s take a closer look.
A Look at Wade
The Giants made a slick move before the 2021 season, when San Francisco picked up LaMonte Wade Jr. from the Twins for pitcher Shaun Anderson. Wade proved to be a very nice addition for the Giants, when he hit .253/.326/.482 with 18 home runs, 38 extra base hits, and 56 runs batted in for San Francisco in his rookie season two years ago. The outfielder showcased elite plate discipline, along with good pop that made him an intriguing bat to watch.
The 2022 campaign didn’t go well for Wade, as he only played 77 games thanks to multiple IL stints due to left knee inflammation. When he was on the field, he only hit .207 and saw his power numbers dip. Healthy again, Wade looks much more appealing from a fantasy perspective.
The 1B/OF, through his first 106 plate appearances of 2023, is hitting .256/.442/.551 with six home runs and nine runs batted in. Wade Jr.’s been on a tear in recent weeks, as his six extra base hits between April 24-May 2 is good for a tie for seventh in MLB during that stretch. And among players with at least 100 PA as of May 3, only three other players — Luis Arraez, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Matt Chapman — own a higher OBP than Wade Jr. That’s thanks to an incredible penchant for drawing walks. His 22 base on balls also ranks fourth in the Majors.
2023 Fantasy Outlook
While Wade Jr. has shown a lot of talent in his time, he’s never been a hot option in fantasy baseball. The main reason is that the Giants have opted to use Wade as a platoon bat and shielded him against left-handers. From 2021-22, Wade only accumulated 75 plate appearances against lefties, a far cry from his 557 PA against right-handers.
This year, Wade’s already seen 20 plate appearances against lefties. However, one thing to note is that the Giants dealt with a number of injuries to its outfield over the first month of 2023. Outfielders Mitch Haniger, Joc Pederson, Austin Slater, Bryce Johnson, and Michael Conforto all missed games since the start of the regular season, somewhat of an explanation as to why Wade’s seen so much time — or at least in the standard set by the Giants for the 29-year-old — against lefties.
Nonetheless, the increased usage of Wade Jr. is notable, especially when one takes into account that he’s hit .267 against LHP as of May 3.
It’s tough to project Wade’s fantasy value, mainly due to his prior struggles against lefties and how the Giants handle the outfield and first positions moving forward. In addition to those facts, the Giants love to use Wade Jr. — an on-base machine — in the leadoff spot. That shouldn’t come to a shock when looking at his OBP numbers, but that does affect his potential to drive in runs.
Even though Wade Jr. has been on a hot street, don’t jump to pick him up just yet. Do, however, keep an eye on him. Wade Jr’s power makes him an intriguing name, even though his walk prowess only helps him in 6×6 roto formats in terms of runs scored, walks, and OPS, depending on format.