To cap off a tremendous first season with the SF Giants, LaMonte Wade Jr. was selected as the 2021 Willie Mac Award recipient. Of course, the award was created in honor of Willie McCovey and it is voted on by the team, coaching staff, and personnel. The recipient is one who best embodies the spirit of McCovey with exceptional leadership on and off the field.
SF Giants: LaMonte Wade Jr. wins Willie Mac Award
The 27-year-old came over to the Giants in a minor trade that sent reliever Shaun Anderson to the Minnesota Twins. No one could have expected that he would emerge as a key cog for a Giants team that has won over 100 games.
That is exactly what happened. Wade has been a steady presence and quickly become known for his clutch hitting, especially in the later innings. His teammates have given him the nickname “Late Night LaMonte” and he has lived up to that name early and often.
This has been a transformational season for Wade. He had not shown much power since being drafted in the ninth round in the 2015 draft out of the University of Maryland. However, following the trade to the Giants, Wade made a couple of mechanical adjustments that have paid dividends.
In total, the left-handed bat has slashed .256/.331/.491 (120 OPS+) with 18 home runs, 54 RBI, and 52 runs scored while being worth 1.6 WAR in 370 plate appearances. Wade has done most of his damage against righties (.876 OPS) but the Giants hope that he can better handle southpaws as well.
He has spent a lot of time at either corner outfield spot in 2021, but he filled in nicely at first base when Brandon Belt hit the injured list with a knee ailment earlier in the season.
He received his award with several other recipients in attendance including Hunter Pence, Andres Torres, Nick Hundley, and Dave Dravecky. The good feelings did not stop there as Wade’s parents were invited onto the field as their son received the award. Plus, Wade’s mother got to throw out the first pitch with LaMonte serving as the catcher.
The award presentation is a nice celebration and reflection of the regular season that helps bring closure to a long year. Of course, for this year’s team, the end of the regular season means a new challenge is awaiting with playoff baseball up next.