Chicago Cubs fans have been making their presence felt in the balloting for the 2019 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland.
Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez and Willson Contreras are practical locks to start the Midsummer Classic, with the possibility that Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Albert Almora and Jason Heyward could join them as reserves for the National League team.
Fans on the North Side have been adamant in their support for Cubs players in recent years. Both Baez and Contreras started last year, and Chicago’s entire infield started for the NL in 2016.
While this Cubs team certainly has several deserving players, there is also a former Cub who should be in Cleveland with the American League team.
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So as the final ballots are cast, Chicagoans should also check off the name of one Tommy La Stella.
La Stella has arguably one of the more compelling narratives of any player that has a chance to start the All-Star Game.
He broke into the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves in 2014 before spending the next four years of his career with the Cubs in Chicago. Despite not being an everyday starter, La Stella garnered the love of the fans for his pinch-hitting heroics and gritty play.
La Stella had hit just 10 homers in over 900 plate appearances heading into the 2019 season. Entering play on Wednesday, he had 16 already this season, including an inside-the-park job against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
In addition to the power numbers (La Stella is also slugging a career-high .510 on the year), the former Cub is hitting .300 and ranks 36th in the bigs in fWAR, ahead of guys like Whit Merrifield, Francisco Lindor, Rizzo, Charlie Blackmon and Bryce Harper.
For a journeyman in his first year as an everyday starter to be outpacing perennial All-Stars while looking like the best Angels player not named Mike Trout is quite a story, indeed.
Time for a bit of a comparison: Player A is slashing .251/.328/.480 with 10 homers in just 45 games. Player B is slashing .300/.352/.510 with 16 homers in 73 games.
Player B is a pretty clear-cut option, right? Unfortunately for La Stella, Player A just happens to be Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who leads the voting for all second basemen in the American League.
La Stella is the more deserving player in terms of who should start the game (so is Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who is a legitimate AL MVP candidate), but he needs more national recognition if he hopes to overpower a player as noteworthy and beloved as Altuve.
With the starters being announced on Thursday, this is the last chance for Cubs fans to show their support for La Stella as they cast their votes for their favorite players.
Do the right thing, and help send La Stella to Cleveland as a starter for the American League team.