Oakland Athletics: Tommy La Stella is a perfect fit for the team

The Oakland Athletics have traded for left-handed second baseman Tommy La Stella.

The Oakland Athletics already had a stacked lineup prior to their Friday night trade for second baseman Tommy La Stella. And now with La Stella on board, this is probably the most complete A’s lineup we’ve seen in years.

The A’s were already proficient at hitting the long ball. They currently rank top-10 in the MLB in home runs and top-three since 2018. They’ve had no problem getting on base with the third-highest walk rate in the majors.

But for whatever reason, the A’s have struggled mightily with driving runners in. This isn’t a new problem either, and it’s likely a direct result of the team’s high strikeout rate.

The A’s 27.3 percent strikeout rate with runners in scoring position is the highest mark in the MLB and that’s contributed to the team’s ugly .215 batting average with runners in scoring position — a figure that ranks 29th in the league.

It hasn’t cost the team yet as their 22-11 record, at the time of writing, is tops in the American League. Their lineup has still managed to get the job done, but as we’ve seen in the past, failing to produce with runners in scoring position can come back to bite a team in the playoffs.

That’s where Tommy La Stella steps in.

Tommy La Stella is a perfect fit for an already-stacked Oakland Athletics lineup.

After four years with the Chicago Cubs, La Stella broke out with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019 and he’s followed that up with another impressive campaign thus far in 2020.

In essence, La Stella does everything the A’s don’t do well. He doesn’t strikeout. He hits extremely well with runners in scoring position. And he’s more than just a simple slap hitter.

Prior to Saturday’s doubleheader, La Stella had struck out just seven times in 117 plate appearances. That’s a miraculous six percent strikeout rate — easily the best in the MLB.

His .295/.346/.486 slash line from a year ago earned him his first All-Star bid and he hasn’t taken much of a step back this year. Ideally, La Stella is a perfect two-hole hitter who will always put the ball in play — something the A’s didn’t really have.

And to essentially get him for nothing (Franklin Barreto didn’t have a future in Oakland), this has to be considered a stroke of genius on the part of the A’s front office.

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La Stella represents everything the A’s lineup was missing. Now, it’s as complete as perhaps it’s ever been.

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