A big part of 2021 fantasy baseball drafting is going to be not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The “baby” being a player who had a terrible 2020 season, and the “bathwater” is the player who had a great 2019, and was primed for a breakout before we entered the crazy two month nonsense of last year. Ramon Laureano is a prime example. His 2019 was 24 homers, 13 steals, .288 average and was ticketed for great things, then the 2020 season happened and no “great things” happened in the 2020 baseball season. Some good things happened if you’re a Dodgers fan, and willing to overlook the giant asterisk on the top right of your World Series banner, but great? Great, I don’t know about. I just googled “great” and it said, “Can I interest you in ‘just all right?'” In fairness to “just all right,” Ramon Laureano can’t make that claim. He was awful last year. No way around that little factoid. In 54 games last year, he went 27/6/25/.213/2 in 183 ABs. Wait, it gets worse! His average exit velocity was 87.7, which was in the bottom third of the league; his line drive rate fell, and his ground balls went up (not literally). You hit a WAP (weak-ass piddler) to the 2nd baseman, and you’re not going to get many hits. So, his .270 BABIP was low for him, and a sizable drop-off from his .342 mark the previous year, but can’t just say unlucky since his hits were so weak sauce. His strikeouts also went up, too, and not in a way that would lead one to believe he was overaggressive. His O-Swing% went down and his Swinging Strike% went way down. In other words, he was waiting for his pitch, and waiting and waiting and…Anyone have eyes on Ramon Laureano right now? I’m wondering if he’s standing at the plate somewhere watching a pitch. So, what can we expect from Ramon Laureano for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
What kind of hitter would suffer the most from a delayed start to a season and a 60-game sprint? If you answered, the type that starts slow. You’re correct and you win nothing. Well, you get an imaginary pat on the back. Hope that carries you through the day! Ramon Laureano starts slow. That means he’s a fast runner, and a slow starter. Like he’s half tortoise and half hare. Call him Herr Pistachio Disguisey. Or not. Your choice! In 2019, Ramon Laureano went 18/3/12/.199/3 in 136 ABs through his first 35 games. That’s from the end of March to roughly mid-May. Then he turned it on, and had a great season. Sure, he never turned it on this year, but he only had fifty extra at-bats from that start in 2019, or roughly ten games.
Breaking pitches were especially tough for Ramon Laureano last year. He had a .168 xBA on breaking pitches, and he was never a strong hitter on the junk. The previous year shows a .238 xBA. However, that’s usually rescued by how much he pounds fastballs. In 2019, he .306 xBA and .607 SLG on fastballs, but, in 2020, he was .269 xBA and .452 SLG. Fastballs runs above average went from 16.3 to 3.5, and his entire struggles can be traced directly back to his fastball-hitting ability. If he just returns serve to his previous marks on the fastball, there’s no way he’s less valuable than his current ADP, which reminds me: He has an ADP of 136. Ha, okay, but, wait, WUT? Not that late with 20+ homer power, and 10+ steal speed. He could hit .240 vs. .260 and he’d be worth that draft pick. I’m all-in, but if Ramon Laurean-slow comes out of the gate like Herr Pistachio Disguisey, my biggest concern for him is the A’s will hit him at the bottom of the order for April, and into May and it might damage his confidence. The good news is his glove is otherworldly, and there’s no way he’s platooned. For 2021, I’ll give Ramon Laureano projections of 83/25/68/.266/13 in 537 ABs with a chance for more.