Not Getting Excited About Tommy La Stella

To start, I am a big fan of Tommy La Stella and as a Braves follower, I am one of the biggest advocates of the Braves giving him the starting second base job. They could use another left-handed bat and specifically can use one that will get on base. Only three of their current regulars have an on base percentage above .300 and while it is still triple-A, La Stella’s mark of .370 in Gwinnett should translate over to a respectable on base percentage with the big club. I have heard from a source that the Braves are waiting until the super 2 deadline to bring La Stella up. Whether that is a good idea or not is unimportant to me, but it does seem to be what is going on. Sooner or later, La Stella will be up with Braves.

With that said, there is not much appeal to La Stella in standard fantasy scoring formats. Much like Matt Carpenter, his value will almost totally be derived from a high average and solid on base percentage. While coming from a middle infielder that has value, the amount of value is uninspiring considering much of fantasy baseball is focused on homers and steals. Unfortunately, neither of those attributes are strong points for La Stella.

Before the season, ZiPS projected La Stella for a .275/.340/.411 line and a .331 wOBA. That’s solid production in real life, but depending on what comes with that it may or may not be as solid of a line in fantasy.

So far this year, the power has been considerably down for the 25-year-old and it may be one reason the Braves have been reluctant to call him up. With an ISO of .050 at triple-A, despite frequently barreling balls, the team could be worried that he may record even fewer extra base hits at the top level. He has a history of doubles power with some slight pop, but even expecting more than 7 home runs the rest of the season at the major league level would be too optimistic.

On the stolen base front, he took eight bags in 10 opportunities last year but no scout has labeled speed as one of his top qualities. Maybe he can swipe you a bag or two, but I’d be surprised if all of a sudden at the major league level he started stealing frequently. Hopefully he is at least efficient when he does run, which could help a bit in net stolen base leagues.

There will be a place for La Stella on some rosters, especially when injuries amount. In daily leagues against right-handed starters if you have room for a high on base guy he could be useful, but I would not expect too much from him in standard formats. In deeper leagues, such as dynasty formats or NL only, he is certainly more attractive. I have him in an on base dynasty league and I am eager to see how he can contribute. My thoughts are he will be similar to D.J. LeMaieu in such leagues, with a high on base, some runs and RBI, but lacking in the other categories.

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Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

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Awesome Ben. Which starting Middle Infielders would you consider dropping for him? Assuming he gets called up..


Dan Uggla