Oakland Athletics: Ramon Laureano about to become a star
By David Hill
Oakland Athletics center fielder Ramon Laureano is best known for his defense. However, his offense is about to push him into stardom.
Over his time in the majors, Ramon Laureano has become known for his impressive defense. Almost from the moment he was called up to the Oakland Athletics, Laureano made his presence felt with his glove and incredible arm, making highlight reel catches and throws that defied belief. In fact, in just 47 games in center in 2018, he led all American League center fielders with nine outfield assists.
Given his defensive prowess, it is easy to overlook Laureano’s contributions with the bat. He produced a solid .288/.340/.521 batting line in 2019, hitting 29 doubles and 24 homers while stealing 13 bases. His intriguing blend of power and speed hints at the potential for more to come.
That breakout may come as soon as the upcoming season. Laureano had been more aggressive at the plate last year, attacking earlier in the count and looking to put the ball in the air. That aggressiveness did not hurt his ability to put the ball in play, as Laureano cut his strikeout rate by 2.8% from 2018.
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That increase in fly balls helped Laureano’s power surge. Not only did he increase his fly ball rate by 7.7%, he also improved his home run rate to 5%, an increase of 2.2% over 2018 and 1.7% higher than the major league average. Not only was he putting the ball in the air more, but he was also driving those strikes earlier in the count.
Those gains appear to be sustainable. Laureano saw his batting average on balls in play decrease to .342, yet his batting average remained the same .288 as last year. While batting average is not the stat it used to be, his OPS increased to .860, as he showed that his offense was developing even more than anticipated.
That is really the final piece of the puzzle for Laureano. He has become a viable five tool player, with multiple 20-20 seasons potentially in his future. His defense is already Gold Glove caliber, and as the A’s continue to contend, he should start to get the recognition he deserves.
That recognition could come as soon as this season. Ramon Laureano may be on the cusp of breaking out, and becoming the next star of the Oakland Athletics.