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.

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Crazy Jorge
9 years ago

“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.