By this point, everybody in the majors knows the book on Ramon Laureano as a defensive center fielder. It’s not complicated, and it only contains one sentence:
Don’t run on Ramon.
However, it turns out we might need to amend that scouting report. After all, there are times in a baseball game when you have to run, and in those moments, if Laureano has the ball, then the script flips a complete 180.
Don’t run on Ramon, unless you have to, then don’t NOT run on Ramon.
This new bylaw became necessary after the Oakland A’s game against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. There were runners on first and second with nobody out, and the batter blooped a flare into shallow center. The runner on second was none other than Laureano’s former teammate, Robbie Grossman, who had spent the previous two years in the Coliseum’s left field watching Laser operate alongside him.
But no amount of awareness from Grossman could help the task at hand, which was that he was halfway between second and third with no idea whether the ball would be caught or not. In order to avoid challenging Ramon, you need to know which base you’re supposed to be standing on.
Unfortunately for Grossman, two things happened. One was that Laureano was already fully aware that the ball was going to drop, and was already setting himself up to follow through and throw to third. The other was that, as Grossman was hopping back and forth waiting for further instruction, he stumbled at the worst possible moment, with his momentum going in the wrong direction back toward second. Maybe he had a chance of beating the throw from a standing start, but once he hit the dirt it was already over.
That clip doesn’t show Grossman’s stumble, but it does offer something we rarely see, on multiple levels. It’s already odd enough for a third baseman to receive a throw on a force play. It’s even weirder to see that throw to third come from the outfield, and the last CF to do it for the A’s was Dwayne Murphy in 1980. It’s almost a mirror image of a first baseman catching a routine throw on a bunt play, except the runner is coming from the wrong direction.
From the opponent’s perspective, it’s quite the pickle. You can’t run on Ramon but also can’t not run on him, leaving a tiny sliver of options that can lead to a positive outcome. We call this range the Razor Window, the precise amount of running you can do on Ramon without being thrown out. It’s as thin as its name suggests.
In conclusion, here’s a deep thought. Does Ramon’s ability to throw fast extend to other uses of the word? Like, if he throws you a glance, does it knock you over? If he throws a party does it start immediately, and if he throws up does it crack the porcelain? Is working with clay just completely out of the question? Let’s discuss.