The Oakland A’s are on a roll, winning 21 of their last 28 games to leap into Wild Card position. It’s been a full team effort with contributions from all around the roster, but one player in particular has stood out above the rest. On Monday, Ramon Laureano was named AL Player of the Week.
The A’s played six games last week, including two wins against the Mariners and a four-game split against the Twins. In that span, Laureano went 13-for-24 for a line of .542/.577/1.042, including two homers, six doubles, two walks, and a stolen base. He recorded multiple hits in each of the first five games before on 0-fer on Sunday, and he also scored 10 times, including several instances in which he represented either the tying or go-ahead run. And to top if all off, he made a great catch against Seattle to rob extra bases or maybe even a homer.
While this specific week earned the hardware, Laureano has really been on fire all month. In 64 plate appearances over 15 games, he’s sporting the following line:
Laureano, July: .434/.484/.962, 260 wRC+, 7 HR, 9.4% BB, 20.3% Ks
He’s averaging a homer every other game this month, and that 260 wRC+ leads the majors. Tack on another seven doubles, three steals, and a rate of only two strikeouts per walk (6 BB, 13 Ks), and he could find himself in the running for Player of the Month honors next week.
All of this is especially encouraging after Laureano’s slow start to the season. By the end of April he had a paltry .646 OPS and a bloated 28% strikeout rate, and by the end of May those numbers had only improved to .708 and 27% Ks. His 88 wRC+ was comfortably below-average, he wasn’t hitting for power, he was striking out more than five times per walk, and his .333 BABIP didn’t suggest that bad luck was the culprit.
That all changed in a hurry, though. Since the beginning of June he’s got a 1.042 OPS in 43 games, including a .318 average and 14 homers. His 169 wRC+ during that time is fourth in all of MLB, trailing only Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, and Ketel Marte. Push the arbitrary starting point back to May 19 and you get the same result, with a 1.034 OPS, 167 wRC+, and the same three stars ahead of him. He still hasn’t fully solved the high strikeout rate, but he’s made progress in that department and it’s clearly not holding him back for now.
The best part is that none of this comes as that big of a surprise. Last year he burst onto the scene in August and September, posting a 129 wRC+ in 48 games and flashing his electric power/speed combo. If he hadn’t exceeded rookie limits, Athletics Nation would have voted him the No. 2 prospect in the A’s farm system, behind only pitching phenom Jesus Luzardo. His current hot streak is more than you would expect from just about any player, but the point is that Laureano was on the short list of names we were expecting to break out and do big things.
Put it all together, and his season stats have nearly caught up with last year’s exciting debut. In 395 PAs over 100 games:
Laureano, 2019: .284/.334/.518, 124 wRC+, 20 HR, 5.3% BB, 26.6% Ks
His 3.0 fWAR and 2.7 bWAR both rank third on the team, behind just Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien. He’s two back of the team lead in dingers, and his 12 steals (in 14 tries) are twice as many as the runners-up (three players have six). His OBP isn’t quite what it was last year, thanks to a reduction in his walks, but we can overlook that for now considering how much damage he’s doing when he swings the bat.
Entering the season, we hoped Laureano would be one of the stars of a contending A’s team, and that is exactly what is happening. He’s as hot as anyone in the majors right now, with all five tools burning bright, and he’s the kind of dynamic player whose eye-popping, jaw-dropping talent is worth the price of admission all on his own. Don’t run on Ramon, don’t pitch to Ramon, don’t hit it toward Ramon, and whatever you do, don’t miss watching Ramon.
Extra note: This was the third Player of the Week award for the A’s this year. Mike Fiers got one in May for his no-hitter, and Marcus Semien got one for the week ending June 10. In similar awards, Liam Hendriks was named AL Reliever of the Month for June.