The 2019 season has provided plenty of surprises so far. None of them bigger than the unexpected power surge that’s taking place on the Los Angeles Angels infield.
Nearly one month into the season, it’s not Mike Trout who sits atop the Angels home run leaderboard. With his two-run home run during Thursday’s game against the New York Yankees, that distinction belongs to Tommy La Stella.
Yes, that Tommy La Stella.
You probably remember him best as the pinch-hitting specialist who hit 10 total home runs during his first five seasons with the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs.
This season, La Stella already has seven.
Tommy La Stella in 343 plate appearances from 2017 to 2018: six home runs
Tommy La Stella in 79 plate appearances in 2019: seven home runs
— Beyond the Box Score (@BtBScore) April 26, 2019
Extra playing time has helped. La Stella has already started 20 games this season after starting 23 and 24 games respectively the past two seasons. Still, we can safely say no one saw this barrage coming.
The Chicago Cubs certainly didn’t. They traded La Stella, who was Joe Maddon's ace-in-the-hole off the bench, during the offseason for minor leaguer Conor Lillis-White.
All he’s done so far is out-homer Cubs’ stars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant ... combined.
Tommy LaStella 7 home runs . Rizzo and Bryant combined 5
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) April 26, 2019
Don’t let Maddon see that stat.
And yes, we know those numbers won’t hold up all season. We also know Trout, who’s tied for second on the team with six homers, missed about a week with a groin injury. Otherwise he might be pushing double digits by now.
But we can’t help but relish those wonderful April sample sizes, the weirdness they provide and the questions they force us to ponder.
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