Monday, June 16, 2014

Seriously, bat La Stella higher

The ridiculous numbers are too much to ignore. In 16 games since his callup, Tommy La Stella has 23 hits, three more than Dan Uggla has had all season. La Stella's seven walks are just two fewer than Uggla despite Uggla having a shade over double the amount of plate appearances Uggla has had this season. Uggla has four multi-hit games, all in April, where he managed two hits in each game. La Stella has nine multi-hit games, or two more games than he has had less than two hits since this season.

It goes beyond that, of course. La Stella already has more hits this season than Ramiro Pena or Gerald Laird and has just one fewer hit than Ryan Doumit and Jordan Schafer combined. La Stella has one more walk than Chris Johnson. In the month of June, only Evan Gattis has been more productive on the team.

We can spend all day doing this, really we can. But ultimately, this boils down to the continued misuse of La Stella's ability. Right now, La Stella is not doing anything he also didn't do in the minors except hit for a little less pop and get seriously bailed out by a ridiculously high .451 BABIP. That will fall and La Stella won't hit .411 for the season, but he's shown he has a capable bat at this level and the on-base skills have been as advertised. To not bat him in the top two is ridiculous. Clearly, the guy we were hoping La Stella could be is the one that called up.

To me, the simple answer is to bat him second behind Jason Heyward and drop B.J. Upton in the lineup. I understand if Upton would feel rejected by such a move. He's hit .221 in the second spot and been as productive as he's been in his entire run with the Braves, but a .300 OBP in the two-spot is hardly getting the results the Braves need. Of course, you'll likely make another lineup change to avoid three lefties in a row. A few days ago, I went over the lineup I would like to see. One doesn't need to go to such an extreme, but the point is to maximize your offensive production and La Stella getting on base ahead of bottom of the lineup isn't going to do that.

Yes, La Stella is bound to regress to some degree. However, to continue to bat him seventh would be wasting his skills. Hopefully, when today's lineup is posted, this mistake will be righted.

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