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Weekly Rundown: Matt LaPorta, you're clear for takeoff

Known as the Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides head-to-head owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups in an attempt to help solve lineup conundrums. While reading, keep in mind matchups are subject to change due to managerial moves, unforeseen injuries and Mother Nature's influence.

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When Matt LaPorta(notes) traded in hops and barley for a tribal drum back in July '08, many overly optimistic owners were convinced immediate gains would soon materialize. After all, he was an elite prospect engineered to mash. Reports from prominent scouting services forecasted countless All-Star appearances. One Milwaukee official even told Baseball America late in '07 the former Florida Gator was "better than Carlos Lee(notes)." Expectations, you could say, were Jason Heyward(notes)-lofty.

However, roughly 300 at-bats, multiple Triple-A demotions and one reconstructed hip later, the warranty expired. When the youngster was banished to Columbus in early June, impatient owners, unsatisfied with the sluggish development, discarded him into the prospect trash bin alongside fellow "busts" Cameron Maybin(notes), Dexter Fowler(notes) and Travis Snider(notes). Cleveland passing plays developed at a faster rate.

But based on his current situation, knee-jerk managers should've shelled out the extra dough for the extended service plan.

Russell Branyan's(notes) sendoff to Seattle has unleashed LaPorta. Since his promotion on June 27, the human firecracker has launched three homers, driving in five. After he posted a gaudy .373-5-16 line in just 67 at-bats for the Clippers, the power onslaught shouldn't come as a surprise. As the Indians' new everyday first baseman recently admitted, all he needed was consistent playing time. But the celestial beings in attendance already knew that. From The Chronicle-Telegram:

What's his secret?

"My secret?" said LaPorta. "Ask God. He's got the secrets."

LaPorta did little to impress over two extended stints with the Indians the past two seasons, but he's made an immediate impact this time around.

"He's attacking the ball a little bit more," Acta said of LaPorta. "It helps that he went down there and had success. Success breeds confidence in everyone. It also helps that he knows he's going to see his name on the lineup card every day, but for the most part, it was just going down and building confidence."

Though their skill sets are worlds apart, LaPorta's sudden transformation is akin to Carlos Gonzalez's(notes) last season. Finally relaxed at the dish, he could easily continue to be a power cog moving forward. His growing eye, soaring confidence and natural brawn point to more sunny days ahead. It's possible he could outperform heavily owned corner infielders, Derrek Lee(notes), Lance Berkman(notes) and Michael Cuddyer(notes) moving forward.

As Pianowski first discussed on Thursday, it's time to purchase the post-hype.

Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 276 at-bats, .268 BA, 15 HR, 38 RBI, 32 R, 1 SB


For stream conscious owners who want to push the innings-pitched envelope this is the list for you. Run support, ballpark factors, historical and recent trends, opposing offenses, opposing SPs, managerial tendencies and meteorological influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.

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Other AL Double Dippers: Justin Masterson(notes), Cle (at Tex, at TB), Kevin Millwood(notes), Bal (at Det, at Tex), Brian Bannister(notes), KC (at Sea, at ChW), Jake Arrieta(notes), Bal (at Det, at Tex), Aaron Laffey(notes), Cle (at Tex, at TB), Ryan Rowland-Smith(notes), Sea (KC, NYY), Jesse Litsch(notes), Tor (Min, Bos)

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Other NL Double Dippers: Brad Lincoln(notes), Pit (at Hou, at Mil), Barry Enright(notes), Ari (ChC, Fla), Aaron Harang(notes), Cin (at NYM, at Phi), Vicente Padilla(notes), LAD (Fla, ChC), Dave Bush(notes), Mil (SF, Pit), Chris Volstad(notes), Fla (at LAD, at Ari), Nate Robertson(notes), Fla (at LAD, at Ari), Jeff Suppan(notes), StL (at Col, at Hou), J.D. Martin(notes), Was (SD, SF)


Torn between two stat-similar infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche(notes) or Carl Pavano(notes) is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through July 1:

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Image courtesy of AP

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