SAN FRANCISCO – With a franchise record of 107 wins and a cascading list of things that went into it, the San Francisco Giants have been able to fill a yawning void of the modern age. In an age hungry for big nicknames like Dizzy (Dean), Three-Finger (Brown) or Catfish (Hunter), the Giants introduced “Late Night” LaMonte Wade Jr.
He’s neither a talk show host nor a local television personality, but a versatile outfielder first baseman acquired in a small, mostly unnoticed business with Minnesota last February for pitcher Shaun. Anderson. A career .211 hitter in just 95 major league batting appearances this season, Wade, 27, has been nicknamed “Late Night” because of his propensity for heroism in the ninth inning. In 336 batting appearances this summer, Wade had six tied or green hits in the ninth inning or later. That’s the most of any player in the past 40 seasons, according to Stats.
It’s hard to say who has fun with the nickname the most, Wade’s teammates or the San Francisco fans. Certainly, his teammates speak very loudly, both in the canoe during tense moments and in the clubhouse during festive moments.
“Every time the ninth inning comes up they say, ‘We have to bring in Wade,” Wade said as the Giants trained here at Oracle Park on Thursday afternoon in preparation for Game 1 of their division series against Los Angeles. Dodgers on Friday evening.
It’s easy to see why. He hits 0.565 in the ninth inning with a 1.409 based percentage plus a stroke percentage. In “late and tight” situations – defined by Baseball Reference as home plate appearances in the seventh inning or later with the team at bat tied, ahead by one or at least equal point on the bridge – Wade hits .362 with .444 base over percentage and 0.511 slugging percentage on 55 plate appearances. In 31 home plate appearances with two outs and runners in scoring position, Wade is hitting .407 / .484 / .889 with three homers and 17 RBIs
“I just want to point out that I’m pretty sure I gave him that nickname so I want credit for it,” said injured first baseman Brandon Belt, who has become somewhat of a mentor to Wade and other young Giants during the team race. remarkable and unexpected successes this season, which earned him his own nickname: “Captain Belt”.
Belt explained that he was on the Giants’ post-game TV show after one of Wade’s triumphant moments when he was given a multiple choice of nicknames for the new San Francisco hero.
“They said ‘Late Game LaMonte’, something or ‘Late Night LaMonte’, and I said I liked Late Night,” Belt said, before adding, “It was awesome to to look at it.”
Wade is the latest example of the success that Farhan Zaidi, the president of baseball operations for the Giants, has managed to exploit the discard pile for underdog players. One thing that caught the attention of Zaidi and his analysis team was the plaque discipline Wade displayed even while scratching to reach the majors. With more than 480 career minor league games to come in 2021, he had walked more times (303) than he had taken out (281).
“Our batting group spent a lot of time with him in the offseason and felt like he could make adjustments,” Zaidi said. “And I have to say when you come back he had three home runs in his major league career at the start of the season, but when you look at them they weren’t cheap. He hit a huge home run against Shane Bieber, who was one of the best pitchers in baseball.
He continued, “You look at those swings and home runs and you say this guy has power, it’s just a matter of getting there consistently.”
Wade, however, is not the only secret ingredient to San Francisco’s success.
Tucked away in the Giants’ franchise record of 241 home runs this season, it was another quirky achievement: Their 18 pinch-stroke home runs are also a major league record, and there’s no Gates Brown (a former Tigers pincer hitter with another excellent nickname knocked out when Detroit got him out of jail), Manny Mota (the longtime pinch-stroke specialist for the Dodgers) or Lenny Harris (the career pinch-stroke leader of the MLB with 212) in the peloton.
Rather than one specialist being responsible, pinch-hit home runs were scattered: Austin Slater led with four (and had just 12 home runs total for the season); Alex Dickerson had three; Donovan Solano, Wilmer Flores and Belt each had two; and five other hitters each had one.
“Tire, that was really really cool,” Belt said. “It’s something we’re very proud of, especially the record for success. Pinching is not easy. It takes a special kind of person. You really have to help the team to do it. If you’re more worried about yourself it’s going to be a bit more difficult in my opinion.
Part of the reason the Giants have so many pinch-hit homers is that there are so many opportunities. Manager Gabe Kapler strongly believes in the importance of battles between hitters and pitchers, so many positions are filled with a peloton of left-handed and right-handed hitters.
“Beyond the players and the coaches, you have to give Kap a lot of credit for pulling the trigger in a lot of these situations,” Zaidi said. “He kind of uses his judgment, follows what he sees in the course of a game but isn’t afraid to play a good game even if a guy has two or three hits in a game or has a homerun. . “
Indeed, on these 18 homers hit, the batter replaced someone who had already struck twice in the game: Dickerson on April 1 in Seattle (beating for Slater) and Wade on August 22 in Oakland (beating for Darin Ruf).
“Nobody ever likes to get pinched, but when a guy comes out and he gives the guy a high-five that comes for him and he’s the most horny player on the top step when these guys come up, that ‘is a great thing to see, ”Zaïdi said.
A rapprochement emerges
The Giants needed each of their 107 wins to take over NL West this year because the Dodgers have won 106. Los Angeles have won 70% of their post-All-Star break games and finished anyway. second.
One of the main reasons is that the Giants’ bullpen went 16-2 in September with a 2.38 MLB rookie ERA Camilo Doval was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on September 5. It was his fourth encore of the season, and this time it all came together for right-hander Doval, 24, whose 100 mph fastball and erase slider sparked memories of Francisco Rodríguez when ‘he broke into the majors and helped the Anaheim Angels beat the Giants in the 2002 World Series.
Doval moved into the role of closer and worked 15 and a third straight scoreless innings dating back to August 12. This is the fifth longest active streak in the majors.
Kapler points to Doval’s early struggles and the fact that he had to be sent to the miners as examples of how a team can learn valuable lessons from the experience.
“So you can take this anecdote with Camilo Doval and expand it to our whole roster, and to a lot of players who have been in triple A this year and they might share similar experiences,” Kapler said. “They’re not all perfectly similar, but you get my point. They are all better for having been in those times.