LaPorta Off and Running in Cleveland

Indians slugger Matt LaPorta digs in while down in Columbus.

Indians' slugger Matt LaPorta digs in while down in Columbus.

With the season all but over for teams like the Indians (and Royals, Nationals, Padres, Orioles, Pirates, etc, etc), the highlights will be of seeing new players lighting it up for the good guys…I hope. Matt LaPorta has been eyed by all Tribe fans since his arrival from the Milwaukee farm system. Giving up the reigning Cy Young Award winner, C.C. Sabbathia was certainly a high price to pay, but the Indians are in the ‘constantly-build-for-the-future’ mode in case you haven’t noticed.

It’s not that LaPorta is finally in the show, he did have a stint earlier this season where he gathered in five hits in eight games played in May. However, the recent call up of the slugger is met with more attention, mainly because the wins and losses don’t seem to matter anymore for the Indians.

In his first game back with the Indians, LaPorta doubled to left in a 7-run 6th inning against the Angels. He chipped in with a sacrifice fly in the 7th, scoring Travis Hafner for the 2nd time in the game. Cleveland went on to beat the AL West-leading Angels 11-3.

Game 2 of the LaPorta tour (cheesy, isn’t it?) featured the Indians at Progressive Field against the Seattle Mariners. He doubled in the 3rd off of Luke French (3-3), en route to a 9-4 loss against the M’s.

Perhaps what fans are most looking for from LaPorta is a power bat. The Indians haven’t put a ball beyond an outfield fence in 10 games now. Remember, this was a ballclub known for power recently, wasn’t it? I guess Victor Martinez isn’t providing a power surge for Boston, whatsoever? Anyway, in 93 games with the Columbus Clippers, LaPorta hit 17 home runs to go along with 60 RBIs and a .299 average. An ominous sight might be a glance at Andy Marte’s stat line in Columbus as well (18, 66, .327). Uh oh! In comparison to other players who have spent significant time in triple-A, LaPorta was 2nd in slugging with .530, behind only Marte (.593). Let’s hope that his major league stat lines are a tad bit better than Marte’s.

Either way, Matt LaPorta may not be the savior for Cleveland baseball, but he does give fans hope. In a season filled with trades for arms, pitchers, and throwers, and (insert another name for someone who hurls a baseball 60’6” to a man wielding a wooden bat), LaPorta brings a heavy bat to the table, something the Indians definitely need now, and in future seasons.

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