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Trying to figure out Tommy La Stella

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The eye test vs. the numbers test tell different stories.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Take a minute to think about the first five months of the season. What sticks out for you?

Some things would be fairly obvious. Jason Heyward's excellence in the outfield. Justin Upton avoiding a mid-summer slump. BJ Upton being terrible. Dan Uggla mercifully being let go.

Then think about Tommy La Stella, who took over for Uggla in late May. He's had a good season, right? He makes good contact with the ball, doesn't expand his zone and is decently reliable in the field. Ben and I wrote about how impressive TLS was through his first month or so in the big leagues. More importantly, he wasn't Dan Uggla.

Take a look at La Stella's numbers, though, and you find a guy who probably wouldn't start on a majority of big league teams.

He's now hitting .273/.351/.344 over 71 games and 287 plate appearances. He has just one home run and two stolen bases. His wRC+ is 99, which rates slightly below average among qualified second baseman. His FanGraphs WAR of 0.2 places him 27th in all baseball among second basemen with 200+ plate appearances. Through 578 innings in the field, La Stella's at -4 defensive runs saved.

Now this isn't to say La Stella is a bad baseball player. He's done a nice job in relief of Uggla over the last three months.

That .351 on-base percentage was a very nice addition to a lineup that is generally lacking guys that get on base a lot. His defense won't win him a Gold Glove, but it's nice not having to cover your eyes every time a ball is hit to second. And it does seem like La Stella tends to come through with the big hit with runners in scoring position more times than not. (I know, I know.)

Right now, though, it seems like major league pitchers are starting to adjust to him, and he hasn't quite made the adjustments to keep up.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see La Stella and Phil Gosselin form some kind of a platoon the rest of the way, even if La Stella hits lefties better than righties. Fredi gonna Fredi.

It's all about getting the most value out of two rookies at second base, and through three months, La Stella hasn't proven he can be a regular starter in the big leagues.