Yeah, well look, you go ahead and try to pun “Laureano” and see what you come up with. I promise its a journey from Lorenzo
Llamas Lamas all the way to trying to connect a Laura Dern reference. Obscure, random, but Laura Dern… so still very nice results (come at me bro). At the very least, the reference in the title above comes from a culturally significant event which completely and totally (redundant!) ages me. Regardless, this whole adventure was to get from point A (title explanation) to point B (framing the title explanation) to point C (move on from the title already bro) to point D, which is to answer the ultimate question: what’s up with Ramón Laureano? Suffering from a wild slash of 208/361/344 after coming off a year where he hit 288/340/521, after the jump we’ll explore exactly what to make of this now 28 game season (as of this writing) and whether or not we’ll experience a case of the Ramóndays or a case of, uh… Well, I guess no matter what it would still be a Ramónday. I just don’t know what I’m doing any more man…
Okay, so with some measure of sanity and equal parts the English language (a man of hope), we’re here to pontificate the goings on of one Ramón Laureano. As was referenced in the lede, hitting near the Mendoza line so far this season, a bit more was expected from a player who had just come off a year where he hit 24 homeruns in just 481 plate appearances. Granted, there were some concerns during his breakout 2019 in terms of a career low 5.6 BB%, but this had been not been as damaging as one would would expect, mitigated by a career low 25.6 K%.
This season has started off a bit differently. With just 3 homeruns in 122 plate appearances, Laureano has pretty much cut his pace in half with the current issues he’s having. And those issues are plain to see: his BABIP has gone from .342 in 2019 to .288, and his K% has also risen in the same time frame, from 25.6% to 29.5%. He’s striking out more, and not getting the placements when putting the ball in play, hitting just 165/330/278 in his last 100 PA. With Sam Haggerty taking more and more starts and offering speed and a strong 303/324/485 thus far, one has to wonder if this is just a cold streak, or has Laurenao’s plate discipline emerged as a hard ceiling to his development?
Let’s examine the rest of his profile:
So in terms of where Laureano is directing the balls he puts into play, it looks as though there is an increase in groundballs and less flyballs. I find that interesting because his exit velocity (88.1) and launch angle (14.9) have stayed roughly in line to his career norms, both 88.3 and 11.9 respectively. Now, his Barrel % has gone down, 9.7 in 2019 to 6.5 this year, and I’m already forming an idea of what’s going on, but lets cover the rest of our bases. (HAR HAR.)
As I just said, I’m not terribly concerned with the type of contact he’s making based on his EV and LA dyill looking strong, but I did want to highlight the fact that overall, his Soft% has gone down, another encouraging sign (she never says that). He may be hitting the ball less, but he’s certainly hitting it harder when he does make contact.
And last but not least, his plate discipline numbers are another sign of great news. His outside swinging ways and propensity to swing-and-miss has improved greatly. It does appear that his strike zone swinging has also gone down, and I have my own theories on this.
So look, I’ll come out and say it, you’ve read all the way to this point or are a ctrl-f God, so from what we’re seeing, Laureano is basically in a weird slump. I mean, think about, we have a player who has improved his batting profile in every which way except in terms of making contact on the pitches he really wants to. That may sound goofy as an argument, but think of it this way: With his low .288 BABIP, sporadic playing time, and the fact that his plate discipline has actually improved (the increase in strikeouts are actually in the zone itself), that tells me that his recent performance is completely out of line with what we should be seeing, the very definition of a cold streak.
We see fluctuations like this all the time, and frankly, if we were all paying attention before this experiment of a season began, we knew we were going to see some really strange things. Remember, in a normal season, players would have weeks on end to work out these random results in their production, all baseball needs is time… and frankly, we just don’t have it this year. So anomalies like this are bound to happen, and happen a lot. In fact, I feel myself writing almost every week trying to figure out if the player is just a victim of two-month season or there’s something else going on. In this case, we don’t have enough data to make a complete determination, but the clues are there for all to see.
While under normal circumstances I would recommend holding, I feel front offices and coaching staffs alike will shift their strategies more for the short term than the long term, perhaps a trend we are almost forced to follow. You can see that a little bit here with Laureano only playing in nine games the last 14 days as of this writing. So with that being said, hold onto him if you feasibly can, but in general redraft leagues (10-14 teams), I’d start exploring alternative options. I do think Ramón Laureano is player we should be patient with and he most certainly has a skillset worthy of investment.
The question is, do we have time to wait? As someone with a case of the Ramóndays, I think you know the answer.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him @jaywrong, or read his rarely (like never) updated blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow.