Ramon Laureano could force change in A’s philosophy
By David Hill
The Oakland A’s are not a team that relies heavily upon stolen bases. The continued emergence of Ramon Laureano could force a change in that philosophy.
In recent times, the Oakland A’s have not resembled the teams of Rickey Henderson. While stolen bases have gone out of favor around the game, that has particularly been the case in Oakland. As a whole, the A’s stole 49 bases last season, with Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano the only players on the roster to reach double digits.
This is a definite philosophical shift. The A’s have not ranked higher than 13th in the American League in steals since 2015, a season that saw the aptly named Billy Burns swipe 26 bags as Oakland’s primary center fielder.
But that may be set to change. Laureano has established himself as a potential five tool player, one whose speed can be a game changer. He has used that speed to great effect in the outfield, ranking as one of the best defensive outfielders in the game with his impressive range.
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Laureano has also been impressive on the basepaths. Although the A’s do not steal bases as a whole, he has managed to swipe 20 bases in his 173 major league games. Even more impressively, Laureano has only been caught three times, showing an excellent ability to pick his spots wisely.
He is not the only player on the A’s with solid speed. Marcus Semien has reached double digits in steals in each of the past five seasons. Jorge Mateo, should he find a place on the major league roster, has 80 grade speed. The players are there for the A’s to begin running once again.
It may be time to consider doing just that. Should the 2020 campaign take place, the shortened season will put a greater emphasis on willing games by any means necessary. With Laureano’s success on the basepaths, that could mean more opportunities for him to steal, putting pressure on the defense and getting himself into scoring position.
The Oakland A’s are not known for setting the basepaths on fire. With Ramon Laureano, that philosophy may have to change.