All of Tommy La Stella’s Extra-Base Hits in One Weblog Post

Tommy La Stella doesn’t have the lowest isolated-power figure of the 310 batters to have compiled 150-plus plate appearances this season. Indeed, he has the 19th-lowest. What distinguishes La Stella from the 18 players above him on that particular laggardboard, however, is that La Stella has also recorded a park-adjusted batting line above league average. La Stella’s ability to draw walks (he has a 10.8% walk rate) while limiting strikeouts (and 11.4% strikeout rate) — plus the influence of a probably fortunate .333 BABIP — have all conspired to produce a 107 wRC+ over 176 PAs.

Nor is any of this unexpected, really. Over parts of four minor-league seasons, La Stella recorded about a third more walks than strikeouts. This past March, both Steamer and ZiPS projected La Stella to produce an above-average park-adjusted offensive line. Right now, in mid-July, both Steamer and ZiPS project La Stella to produce an above-average park-adjusted batting line for the rest of the season.

The utility of a player with minimal power will always be a concern. What La Stella’s first 40-plus games as a major-leaguer suggest, however, is that, given sufficiently competent plate-discipline skills, a batter can render himself useful despite an almost total absence of power.

In fact, La Stella has produced so few extra-base hits that a sufficiently motivated weblogger could theoretically compose an entire post featuring animated GIFs of those same extra-base hits without unduly taxing either the relevant site’s server or a reader’s capacity to load that post comfortably.

As I say, one could theoretically do that. One could also actually do it, as well — in fact, has actually done it, today and here.

What follows is a collection of darling miniature GIFs depicting all nine extra-base hits — from just before the moment of contact until that point at which he reaches base safely — produced by Atlanta second baseman Tommy La Stella since his late-May promotion to the majors. Accompanying each of those GIFs is a brief entry containing the relevant date, inning, and identity of the opposing pitcher.

By way of reference, here’s a spray chart of all La Stella’s extra-base hits this season, numbered for sake of ease:

LaStella Spray 2

And here are all the aforementioned GIFs, presented in chronological order:

Date: June 12, 2014
Inning: 5th   Pitcher: Jhoulys Chacin
Darling Miniature GIF:

LaStella 1

Date: June 15, 2014
Inning: 6th   Pitcher: Kevin Jepsen
Darling Miniature GIF:

LaStella 2

Date: June 20, 2014
Inning: 7th   Pitcher: Drew Storen
Darling Miniature GIF:

LaStella 3

Date: June 28, 2014 (Game One)
Inning: 8th   Pitcher: Antonio Bastardo
Darling Miniature GIF:

LaStella 4

Date: June 28, 2014 (Game Two)
Inning: 5th   Pitcher: Sean O’Sullivan
Darling Miniature GIF:

LaStella 5

Date: June 28, 2014 (Game Two)
Inning: 6th   Pitcher: Mario Hollands
Darling Miniature GIF:

LaStella 6

Date: June 29, 2014
Inning: 4th   Pitcher: David Buchanan
Darling Miniature GIF:

LaStella 7

Date: July 5, 2014
Inning: 8th   Pitcher: Eury De la Rosa
Darling Miniature GIF:

LaStella 8

Date: July 13, 2014
Inning: 7th   Pitcher: Zac Rosscup
Darling Miniature GIF:

LaStella 9

What does this brief exercise reveal? Little, probably. And yet, if one is reading these words, it’s likely because all of the GIFs above have loaded fully and are functional — because Tommy La Stella, a slightly above-average hitter thus far, has nevertheless recorded only nine extra-base hits in 170-plus plate appearances.

The GIFs here contain a total memory of ca. 50 MB. Performing a similar exercise for Toronto’s Colby Rasmus, on the other hand — who’s recorded nearly three times as many extra-base hits (24) in a similar number of plate appearances (205) — would require about 130-135 MB of memory in GIFs. That would take longer to load, that post. How much longer? I don’t know. It seems like probably about 2.5 times longer. But also, it’s possible the length of different load times doesn’t possess a linear relationship like that. The point is, Rasmus has actually produced a lesser offensive line (94 wRC+). He’s also projected to produce a lesser offensive line than La Stella over the rest of the season. Rasmus has considerable power. La Stella has almost no power. La Stella is probably a better hitter, anyway. Also, La Stella is probably a better hitter than a lot players with more power. That’s the point this post is intended to belabor.

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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

29 Responses to “All of Tommy La Stella’s Extra-Base Hits in One Weblog Post”

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  1. Crazy Jorge says:

    “Also, La Stella is probably a better hitter than a lot players with more power. That’s the point this post is intended to belabor.” The fact that he happens to be an Italian-American? Purely coincidental.

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  2. Daniel says:

    Tommy La Singles!

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  3. Poor Man's Rick Reed says:

    My favorite part here is the end of the GIFs in which the perfectly placed ball is rolling slowly in a gap while the outfielder hustles over to pick it up. Not exactly nine scorchers.

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    • Anon21 says:

      Numbers 1, 4, 5, and 7 seemed to be hit plenty hard that an extra-base hit is the expected outcome. I’m having a hard time seeing where #8 hit, but it looks like a pretty standard down-the-line double coupled with some Grade-A laziness on the part of the right fielder.

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      • Rick Lancellotti says:

        I’m guessing it probably was a ground rule double… I couldn’t see it bounce but since he doesn’t have any HRs it’s the only thing that makes sense because otherwise you don’t just walk to the ball.

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  4. brentdaily says:

    In fairness to La Stella, 77.8% of these xBHs were of the ‘no doubt’ variety.

    A reasonable person could also argue the first slide wasn’t actually required but that he merely collapsed due to pure exhaustion as he’d never previously sprinted more than 90-feet.

    An 88.9% stand-up rate would probably good for approximately a 256 xBSU (extra base stand up rate) if such a stat existed.

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    • yasiel puig says:

      yes, but what does his bat flips per nine look like on those extra base hits?

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      • Brent Daily says:

        Truth. He’s well below bat flip replacement. Looks like distance = <18 inches and revolutions are about 1/8th. Weak.

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  5. Ben Revere says:

    Man. This dude can mash.

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  6. Garrett's Mom says:


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  7. Hmmm says:

    This GIFs suggest both that La Stella is not fast and not strong. Does he use a monstrous club of a bat? He looks like a toddler using his whole body to drag a big red plastic bat through the zone.

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  8. Brian says:

    Even if those 9 XBH were all singles, he’s still better than Uggla.

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    • Tim says:

      Fantastic point, yet kinda depressing as a Braves fan considering how long they stuck with Uggla

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  9. Jose Molina says:

    Don’t click on the “Indeed, he has the 19th lowest” link…er, nothing to see there…

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  10. Phillies113 says:

    4 of these 9 were against the Phillies, in the same series. 3 of those were on the same day; 2 of THOSE were in the same game.

    The Philadelphia Phillies: Making weak sluggers look like Babe Ruth since 1883!

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  11. AD says:

    Only two of his XBH came at the Ted, which seems as interesting to add as anything else here.

    Does La Stella, weak with the bat, feel uncomfortable with the tomahawk chop?

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  12. BaconBall says:

    Tommy La Stella has an OBP of .371. Blown Job Upton has an OBP of .277, yet BJ is the lead-off hitter. The manager, Freddi Gonzalez, has obviously taken a page out of the Dusty Baker playbook, or has listened to Harold Reynolds, who did not want a lead off batter who got on base because they, “Clogged up the bases.”
    BJ has a K rate of 30.2%. La Stella strikes out only 11.4% of the time. BJ’s wRC+ is 73. Of the 20 CFers listed as “Qualified” on this website only one, Jackie Bradley, is lower at 71, but he has at least played stellar defense. BJ has not. The last Braves game I watched, Blown Job had a line drive pop out of his glove, and did not hustle for a ball he allowed to roll under his glove. The poor man is playing like Dock Ellis on acid, yet the Braves “brain trust” continue to stick him out there, where, to be kind, he is “out there,” way “out there.”
    If you change the “qualified” to 200 at bats, BJ in wRC+ is listed at #32. There are only 30 MLB teams. Why is this man on a ball field?
    I was recently offered free tickets by a season ticket holder. The man was shocked when I not only refused, but informed him that, for the first time since the Braves moved South, I am no longer following the team. And I am not alone. Why should we continue to support the “mentally challenged” management who refuse to believe what everyone knows, because they have seen enough with their eyes over the last YEAR and HALF to know “Blown Job” is “washed up.” Why should any fan support these idiots when they have a young player, Jordan Schaefer, a damn good CFer, and lead-off hitter, who played very well last year when given a chance before being injured, sitting on the bench? What has BJ Upton got on the Braves? Something is keeping him in the line up, and it is not his play…

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    • The Ted, Section 437 says:

      Just for fun, do me a favor and look up Jordan Schafer’s wRC+ and OPS+. This will be a fun exercise.

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    • Anon21 says:

      What’s keeping BJ Upton in the lineup is the lack of better options, sad as that is. Jordan Schafer is actually worse in every regard and shouldn’t even be on a major league roster.

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    • Richard R says:

      Schaefer is… how do you say… not good.

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    • xdog says:

      Fredi’s no fool. He tried Tommy the Star at leadoff for 5 games and he responded with a 100/182/150 line over 22 PAs. Got a double but otherwise looked overmatched. Rather than continue the experiment and watch one of his few offensive assets get beaten in the ground, he moved him. I expect he’ll move him back to the top soon.

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    • bobwhite says:

      You were rolling–and I agreed with you–until we got to the Schafer comments. While my eyeball test likes Schafer, his stats are awful. The only way you could justify starting Schafer (i) is to argue his full time stint in Atl and Houston were somehow not representative and he will get much better, or (ii) is for BJ actually to be hurt and unable to play. There is not much basis for (i). Schafer has nice wheels and a decent arm, but not much else.

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    • Larvell Blanks says:

      Hey, Doc Ellis threw a no-hitter on acid, so don’t compare him to BJ.

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  13. Windu says:

    All power should be measured in total bytes of GIFs.

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  14. BaconBall says:

    Jordan Schafer changed his approach last year when he stopped trying to pleas the chicks who like the long ball. His slash line in the first half of 2013 was .312/.399/.464. He was injured and missed almost all of July. Upon his return he exhibited atavism and his slash line was .170/.248/.208. How much of that can be attributed to the injury I cannot say. He is a much better CFer than blown Job, which can be seen with the naked eye as well as the stats. The man deserves a chance to prove what he can do, because everyone in MLB, and for that matter, in Little League, knows BJ Upton can no longer play well enough to even be sitting on a MLB bench.
    You can find Mr. Schafer’s splits here:

    May I remind you that the issue is not whether or not Jorday Schafer should be on a MLB roster or not, but rather why the hell the mentally challenged Braves “brain trust” continue to play a player who is playing at a below replacement level, when they DO have an option. If the Braves brains do not think Schafer an adequate replacement, then they ought to do everything in their power to find someone, anyone, to replace Blown Job! They cut their losses with Dan Uggla, did they not? That got rid of one dead weight. As it stands, the Braves have a black hole in CF. You people seem to be saying Jordan Schafer would be worse, if played, than Blown Job. That is NOT POSSIBLE! Even if Jordan did not hit he would help the Braves on defense and he can get on base and run. If Blown Job were a young player in the minors and had been promoted to AAA, he would have been sent back down to AA, or even A ball by now. And to make matters worse, the idiot manager has the man batting LEAD OFF! That means the worst hitter on the team will have the most PA’s! Does that make sense to you folks? It makes none to me and my friends, who have stopped going to the games, which is the bottom line, is it not.
    I left this on Rotographs last month and have decided to post it again here:
    BaconBall says:
    June 23, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    The 1964 Milwaukee Braves finished fifth in the NL, five games back of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phighting Phils and the Reds were one game back, with the Bay Area Giants three games back. According to the pythWL the Reds should have finished first, at 92-70, three games ahead of the Giants. The Cards and Phils would have tied for third/fourth with 88 wins, then the Braves in fifth with 87 wins. The Dodgers would have been sixth at 86-76, then Pittsburgh at 84-78. The Cubs, Mets, and Colt 45?s were never in it.
    The Braves led the league in runs scored with 803, 88 more than the 2nd place offense of the Cards. The problem was that they gave up 744 runs; only the Mets gave up more, 776. Upon closer examination one sees the ERA of 4.12 (lg avg 3.54) exceeded the team FIP, the 3.79 given on BR by .33, while the FIP at FG shows 3.89, dropping the difference to 1/4 from 1/3. It is obvious the Braves had defensive problems.
    Examination shows the Braves had an open wound at second base. Frank Bolling was a 32 year veteran who was rapidly aging right in front of the eyes of manager Bobby Bragan and GM John Mullen. Frank fired out of spring training hitting .271/.500/.852 with 3 home runs. He only hit 2 the rest of the year, while all his batting stats dropped like Little Boy on its way down to Hiroshima. From looking at Frank’s fielding stats, he had obviously lost it all. I do not know whether Frank was injured, but something drastic obviously happened to cause the sudden change. Yet Bobby B kept trotting him out there until August, when even he had seen enough. By then it was too late as the damage had already been done.
    What makes this difficult to understand is that the Braves had a young second baseman, Mike de la Hoz, who put up good numbers when he did play. All you need know is that the wRC+ was 111 for Mike and only 47 for Frank. Defensively Mike was a positive 4.2 while Frank was a negative -7.6. Frank had 387 PA and a WAR of -1.9. Mike had about half as many PA but a WAR of +1.5.
    One way to look at this is that if Mike had played the whole season with the same WAR and Frank had never come to bat, the Braves would be +3.4 better. How about if we double Mike’s PA so he would have about the same number as Frank. Then Mike’s WAR would be +3.0. Add the -1.9 and the Braves would have been about 5 games better. If Mike had played at the same level for the season, then his WAR for 600+ PA would be +4.5, meaning the Braves could have, had they put Mike on 2B and left him there for the season, been +6.4 games better with only this change in personnel. Add six wins to the Braves pythWL and the Braves top the Reds by one.
    Seeing the Braves were scoring more than enough runs, Bobby Bragan could have seen what he needed was preventing runs, which means defense. Lee Maye played 750 innings in CF, with Felipe Alou playing 489. “Put me in coach/I’m ready to play” Ty Cline was there for only 182 innings, but his TZ was +2. The TZ for Alou was +6. Lee Maye rates a -12! It is obvious that as a center fielder, Lee Maye should have been in a corner spot. But Lee could hit, and he hit lefties well, too. His wRC+ is 125. Ty Cline’s wRC+ was 118, only a small drop off from Maye. What John Mullen and Bobby Bragan failed to see is that they could trade Lee Maye for what they needed, a good pitcher, and come out much better defensively, and with Mike de la Hoz producing much better than Frank Bolling, at least the same offensively, but probably much better, because remember that after April, Frank made Mario Mendoza look like a slugger.
    I do not know exactly how many runs the Braves would have saved playing the two better CF’s, but each play made than would not have been made by Lee Maye would have made the pitcher’s stats look better. Let us say that making the aforementioned changes would have brought the team ERA down to FIP level. That would mean the Braves would have allowed 50+ fewer runs. That could mean a five game swing just defensively.
    The Braves find themselves in a similar situation this year. They finally broke down and faced reality at second base, leaving the gaping hole in CF I call “Blown Job.” B.J.Upton has been a total bust; an unmitigated disaster. The last time I watched a Braves game B.J. came running in on a ‘fliner’ and it popped out of his glove. A few innings later he let a ball roll under his glove all the way to the fence. Even the old scout going blind, Gus, in the movie, “Trouble With The Curve” could see B.J. has Blown his Job. I can no longer watch as the manager Freddi Gonzalez continues to make his first mistake before the game begins by penciling in Blown Job Upton into the second spot.
    What the Braves need is a lead-off hitter, and, as it so happens, they have one on the bench in Jordan Schaefer, drafted by the Braves in the 2005 draft. He seemed to have put it together before being injured last year. He has speed, but has not hit LHP. He is outstanding in CF.
    Almost a century ago the World Chess Champion, Jose Raul Capablanca, from Cuba, made a move the commentators questioned. Capa had moved his Rook from a1 to c1. On the next move he moved it back to a1. When asked why, the WC said, “After moving the Rook to c1 I realized it was a mistake, so I moved it back where it belonged.”
    The Braves need to move their Rook.

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    • Daphne says:

      Jordan Schafer is not the answer in CF for the Braves. Schafer’s split in early 2013 before he got hurt came with a BABIP of .414. Now, did Schafer turn into one of the best players in baseball, or did he have a few months where he was playing over his head? I think I know the answer to this.
      The BJ Upton situation is different from the Dan Uggla situation because its earlier in the contract and me personally, I feel the Braves have no good options in CF offensively unless Jose Peraza starts playing it next year in Gwinnett or they move Heyward back to CF, send Gattis back out to LF, and have Bethancourt become the starting catcher full time.

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