Think back to a time way back when in 2008. The Indians were losing, while CC Sabathia kept winning, before going on to win even more with the Milwaukee Brewers.
In that trade, the Indians received a player that was supposed to be the next top-tier slugging first baseman—Matt LaPorta.
40-homerun seasons were not out of the question for the top-10 prospect, but fast forward to 2011 and even 20-homerun seasons might actually be out of the question for the Tribe first baseman.
Year after year excuses are made for LaPorta, yet he makes no advancements as a hitter. Expecting him to be elite is asinine, but is it too much to ask for him to be average?
In three seasons at the major league level, LaPorta's slashline is an inexcusable .236/.302/.297. His career totals of 30 HR and 106 RBI are what he was expected to at least average in a long prosperous career.
Now we have to question if he can last another five years in the league.
I want to see LaPorta to succeed, and still want to give him a chance, but can the Indians really afford it? LaPorta is one of the worst players in baseball as evidenced by his measly 0.1 WAR.
LaPorta's offense has been so bad that manager Manny Acta has put catcher Carlos Santana at first base and put in Lou Marson at catcher much more often than earlier in the year. Marson is viewed as a better offensive player than LaPorta on many days.
But perhaps LaPorta still has a fair amount of upside in him. The issue is, I don't think he'll ever reach that upside in a Cleveland uniform.
Indian fans have harassed LaPorta to no end, and his lack of confidence is evident at the plate. Often times he just guesses on pitches hoping to launch a ball out of the park. He is trying to do way too much in order to please the Cleveland faithful.
After a particularly awful stretch of play in late July, fans repeatedly bashed LaPorta on Twitter. All the harassment became to much for the 26-year-old to handle and he deleted his account.
With Indian fans being so harsh on their first baseman, now LaPorta may think that he cannot succeed in a Tribe uniform.
Because of this, LaPorta may be much better suited elsewhere. The issue is there is no reason to trade him. With his poor play, he'll get next-to-nothing on the trade block. Though many teams will be interested in a once top first base prospect.
The best outlook is that LaPorta plays partially at first base through his arbitration years, and a team might give him a chance at some point in free agency. Don't be surprised to see the once crown jewel of one of the biggest trades of the decade to become a strong producer in a different uniform.
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