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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | August 17, 2017

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Matt LaPorta No Help To Tribe Offense

By Christian Petrila

Travis Hafner is on the disabled list, there’s an opening on a roster and the Indians need another position player for the upcoming trips to National League parks.

Cue the Matt LaPorta talks.

However, just like inCleveland, LaPorta’s numbers are inconsistent and frustrating.

Upon first glance, LaPorta’s numbers in Triple-A Columbus so far would make the average fan say, “Why wasn’t he promoted a month ago?” There are reasons.

His batting average is .309, which is terrific. The red flag with that is just how drastic a difference there is between his numbers atHuntington Park– home of the Clippers – and his numbers everywhere else. If the Indians played atHuntington Park, there is no doubt that LaPorta would be on a path to the Hall of Fame. Through 24 home games, LaPorta is hitting a whopping .360 with 12 home runs and 24 RBI. On the road is a different story. In 21 road games, his numbers drop to .250 with two home runs and seven RBI. Needless to say in his thus far brief Major League stint, the Indians have gotten “road” LaPorta rather than “home” LaPorta.

LaPorta still strikes out. A lot. In 2011 with the Indians, LaPorta struck out 87 times in 107 games while only drawing 23 walks. To put those numbers in perspective, so far this season, Casey Kotchman has struck out 19 times and drawn 13 walks in 43 games. LaPorta’s strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2011 was 3.8. Kotchman’s ratio this year is 1.5. With LaPorta, the Indians are seemingly getting either feast or famine. No in between. He’s still piling up the K’s in Columbus. Entering Thursday, he has already tallied 38 strikeouts in 45 games.

Reason three consists of three words: On. Base. Percentage. LaPorta plain and simple can’t get on base. His highest career Major League OBP is .308, and that was only through 52 games in 2009. His career OBP is .304. There is only one player in the Indians starting lineup whose OBP is worse this season. Casey Kotchman’s is .297, but in May, his OBP was .340. LaPorta needs to do a much better job of getting on base.

Finally, defense. Casey Kotchman was brought in by the Indians because at first base, he is one of the best defensive options. In 770 career games at first base, Kotchman has committed a mere 13 errors, good for a fielding percentage of .998. LaPorta isn’t half as good defensively. In only 200 career games at first, LaPorta has committed 12 errors. One less error, in almost a quarter of the time. To put it simply, Kotchman is a defensive asset while LaPorta is more of a defensive liability.

I do think the Indians will call up LaPorta sooner than later. However, there is no reason to think his next stint inClevelandwill be any different than the last few.

Photo: Getty Images