After a breakout season cut short by injury in his first year with the Angels, Tommy La Stella just kept hitting in 2020, and then was traded away after the team fell out of contention.
La Stella followed up his stellar 2019 with an even better year in some respects. He had a higher on-base percentage (.370), wOBA (.355) and wRC+ (129) than he did the season before, giving the Angels a very productive top of the lineup, with La Stella surrounded by Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and David Fletcher.
But despite La Stella’s (la)stellar contributions, the Angels were just 10-22, already out of contention when he was traded to the A’s on August 29.
At the time of the trade, La Stella’s 135 wRC+ was in the top third of all qualified hitters in the American League, and he had the lowest strikeout rate (6 percent) in the majors.
La Stella’s time with the Angels was brief, totaling just 108 games in parts of two seasons, but he hit 20 home runs, and his .194 isolated power is the second-highest of any middle infielder in franchise history with at least 100 games, trailing only Rex Hudler (now, that’s a fun fact).
La Stella’s contribution to the Angels might not be finished, even if he doesn’t return. Oakland sent along one-time top prospect Franklin Barreto, who has yet to succeed in the majors and is already out of options. If Barreto can turn things around — he’ll only be 25 next year — the Angels could potentially get four years out of the infielder.
That’s probably wishful thinking, but then again so was getting 20 home runs and a 122 OPS+ out of an infielder with 10 career home runs in 396 games and a 94 OPS+ that they acquired in La Stella.
Stats: .273/.371/.475, 135 wRC+, 8 doubles, 4 HR, 0.6 fWAR with Angels; (.281/.370/.449, 1.2 fWAR overall)
Salary: $3.25 million
Game of the year
La Stella was 2-for-4 on August 17, and down a run with one out in the ninth inning he launched a walk-off home run to give the Angels a win over the Giants.
La Stella, with six years, 57 days of major league service time, is now a free agent.