La Stella, Reddick, Phegley sleeper All-Star candidates


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Read our FAQ on this year’s revamped balloting format, which includes two phases of fan voting to determine the All-Star starters, and the ability to vote through Google Search.
Beyond the players who fit the bill of obvious All-Stars, every team also has one or two who are considered “sneaky

Read our FAQ on this year’s revamped balloting format, which includes two phases of fan voting to determine the All-Star starters, and the ability to vote through Google Search.

Beyond the players who fit the bill of obvious All-Stars, every team also has one or two who are considered “sneaky good.” They’ve done enough this year to warrant selection to the All-Star Game, even if they’re not receiving the top billing that their more well-established teammates are afforded.

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Every team has that “sleeper” All-Star candidate. Who fits the description in the American League West?

Angels: IF Tommy La Stella

Wouldn’t this be an apropos year for La Stella to make his first All-Star team? He already has 13 homers, after hitting just 10 in 396 games over his prior five seasons. His home run total is second on the Angels, behind only Mike Trout, and that has to count for something, no?

La Stella didn’t start out as an everyday player for the Angels, but he worked his way into that role, playing both third and second. Entering Wednesday’s play, La Stella was hitting .343 since April 18, ranking second in the AL over that stretch. Also, he’s already surpassed his career-high RBI total with 34 — and it’s only early June.

Astros: OF Josh Reddick

Reddick has quietly put together a terrific first half so far, coming through big in the clutch while picking up a lot of the slack for his many teammates who are currently injured. Through Tuesday, Reddick had posted the fifth-lowest strikeout rate in the AL at 10.4 percent. And he’s been using the whole field, more than in past seasons. Reddick has hit 41.4 percent of his balls in play up the middle, his best mark since Statcast started tracking these statistics four years ago. Also, the left-handed-hitting Reddick has been a beast against left-handed pitching, batting better than .370 with a .413 on-base percentage vs. southpaws.

A’s: C Josh Phegley

Phegley has been contributing in big ways on both sides of his game, and he’s doing it when it counts the most. The catcher, entering play Wednesday, was hitting .361 (22-for-61) with runners on base, and .325 (13-for-40) with runners in scoring position. Behind the dish, Phegley has tossed out 12 of 39 attempted basestealers, and his 12 caught-stealings are second-most in the Majors, behind only 2018 All-Star J.T. Realmuto.

Mariners: 1B Daniel Vogelbach

When Vogelbach turns on a fastball, he really makes it count. He has 15 homers already this season, tied for eighth-most in the league. He’s ninth in OPS at .928, and 18th with a .372 on-base percentage. Also, he hit a homer that people are still talking about, a mammoth two-run shot at T-Mobile Park on May 27 that landed in the third deck in right field. Vogelbach is believed to be only the third player in ballpark history to hit an upper-deck homer to right during a game. The others are three-time All-Star Mo Vaughn (1999) and one-time All-Star Gil Meche (2001).

Rangers: OF Hunter Pence

This one is a no-brainer. Pence, whom many wrote off after he slogged through an injury-riddled season with the Giants in 2018, is in full comeback mode with the Rangers this year. He’s tailed of a little bit offensively of late, but overall, entering Wednesday’s game, he was slashing .299/.350/.630 in his prior 34 games. Though Pence has a terrific track record, it’s notable that he practically had to start over last offseason. He made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster out of Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, after playing winter ball in order to rework his swing.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.



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