Why the timing of SF Giants first baseman LaMonte Wade Jr.'s injury is so unfortunate

Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants
Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages
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SF Giants first baseman LaMonte Wade Jr. landed on the injured list with a hamstring strain at the end of May. He was on a tear at the plate but the injury likely clouds any chances he had of making the All-Star team.

Why the timing of SF Giants first baseman LaMonte Wade Jr.'s injury is so unfortunate

Of course, the Giants also have to worry about replacing Wade Jr.'s production at the plate. For the time being, they will go with Wilmer Flores and Trenton Brooks at first base. Given that Wade Jr. is expected to miss at least four weeks, you can cross one name off of the list.

For the lefty bat, it felt like everything was beginning to click in a way we have not seen before. Sure, he has been a solid hitter in the past as he posted a .769 OPS in the three years leading up to this one and he has consistently shown a knack for the clutch hit.

However, Wade Jr. was not only the Giants' best hitter but one of the better hitters in the National League. He slashed .333/.470/.426 (169 wRC+) with two home runs, 17 RBI, and 22 runs in 166 plate appearances. This includes a 19.9 percent walk rate, 21.1 percent strikeout rate, and a .093 ISO.

Given that Bob Melvin has used Wade Jr. primarily as a platoon bat against right-handed pitching, he falls just shy of qualifying for the leaderboards. I will add that he was beginning to see some more time and success against lefties as well.

If the 30-year-old was a qualified hitter, his 19.9 percent walk rate would comfortably lead baseball. Kyle Tucker is the current leader with a 17.4 percent walk rate. Not only does he walk at a high rate, but he is able to limit his strikeouts as well.

The BB/K ratio is one of the many measures to evaluate a player's control of the strike zone. If a hitter has a BB/K ratio above 1.0, it means that they walk more than they strike out. That is an impressive rate that only two qualified hitters currently maintain (Tucker and Mookie Betts). That said, Wade Jr.'s 0.94 BB/K would be tied for fourth in baseball with Jurickson Profar.

Of course, walking is not why someone should make an All-Star team. That said, the high walk rate helps to explain Wade Jr.'s stellar on-base percentage. He was reaching base at a .470 clip, which would comfortably lead baseball if he qualified for the leaderboards. Profar is the leader with a .424 on-base percentage.

On-base percentage is part of what has made him such a strong hitter in 2024. This is in addition to just being a really good hitter overall.

First base is a tough position for the All-Star team. In the NL, it is loaded with talent like Freddie Freeman and Bryce Harper. Both players have a good chance at heading to Globe Life Field in Texas next month.

In terms of wRC+, Harper and Freeman lead all first basemen in 2024 with 149 wRC+ and 142 wRC+, respectively. Again, Wade Jr. does not qualify for the leaderboards. I am pointing this out to benchmark his numbers against the rest of baseball. It helps to put his 169 wRC+ into perspective and explain why he would be a legitimate candidate for the All-Star team.

All-Star teams get it wrong all the time. It happens for a number of reasons, notably the rule that requires each team to have a representative. This is not to say that Wade Jr. would have made the All-Star team if not for the injury, but he is performing at an All-Star level. That is undeniable and the recognition is important.

Wade Jr. will be arbitration-eligible one more time next winter. Perhaps, the Giants try to work out an extension to buy out his remaining season of team control and one or two years of free agency.

If not, being able to say that you made an All-Star team would help your case in whatever amount you are negotiating. In addition to this, some players only get one chance to make the All-Star team in their career. The Giants hope that Wade Jr.'s recent surge is a trend that is here to stay.