Is There Historical Hope for Matt LaPorta?

Oh, Matt.

Similar to the exercise with Lou Marson from this morning—who is Matt LaPorta similarly to historically? We're looking for players with very little defensive value who have really struggled to hit in their young careers. This list is players who:

  • Have played since integration (Matt LaPorta does)
  • In their first five seasons posted OBP's under .310 (LaPorta is .304), SLG under .400 (LaPorta is .397), and OPS+ under 100 (LaPorta is 93).
  • In their first five seasons played at least 250 games (LaPorta has played 269) and recorded those first 250 games between the ages of 23 and 28 (LaPorta was 24-26). I've intentionally left out younger players.
  • Played 60% of their games at 1B or DH (LaPorta has played 200/246 at 1B).
Rk Player G OBP SLG OPS+ From To Age PA 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OPS Pos Tm
1 Todd Benzinger 601 .302 .383 87 1987 1991 24-28 2234 99 12 46 134 376 .255 .685 *3/978D BOS-CIN-TOT
2 Tommy McCraw 534 .301 .351 92 1964 1967 23-26 1647 57 13 27 119 208 .241 .653 *3/789 CHW
3 Dan Meyer 387 .295 .377 87 1976 1978 23-25 1431 50 9 32 84 112 .253 .673 *3/7D DET-SEA
4 Jim Spencer 376 .299 .372 94 1970 1972 23-25 1347 46 6 31 88 149 .250 .671 *3/7 CAL
5 Dick Nen 361 .289 .336 82 1963 1968 23-28 913 23 3 21 77 152 .224 .625 *3/7 LAD-WSA-CHC
6 Carlos Martinez 342 .300 .379 91 1989 1992 23-26 1178 51 6 19 48 161 .270 .679 *3/5D7 CHW-CLE
7 Kevin Young 321 .292 .368 73 1992 1996 23-27 989 46 5 21 65 201 .235 .660 *3/59D7 PIT-KCR
8 Rick Leach 316 .306 .336 78 1981 1985 24-28 743 33 6 7 67 88 .237 .643 *3/9D781 DET-TOR
9 Rocky Nelson 281 .297 .336 67 1949 1952 24-27 803 27 12 6 56 32 .242 .633 *3/7 STL-TOT-BRO
10 Chuck Harrison 279 .302 .352 87 1965 1969 24-28 958 39 6 15 74 128 .242 .654 *3 HOU-KCR
11 Matt LaPorta 269 .304 .397 93 2009 2011 24-26 1008 51 2 30 81 206 .238 .701 *3/7D9 CLE
12 Jim Traber 254 .279 .355 78 1986 1989 24-27 873 21 0 27 56 114 .227 .634 *3/D79 BAL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/5/2011.

As with Lou, the news is not great. This entire list went on to produce, charitably, less than 10 quality major league seasons as hitters. Many of the players on this list had essentially no career after that first exposure. What stands out to you? Can anybody make a compelling argument for handing LaPorta another pile of ABs?

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