Resting on his Laureanos

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Ramón Laureano (OAK): 3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB.

Things went pretty poorly last season for Ramón Laureano after his ill-fated attempt to take into his own hands what Rob Manfred was too cowardly to do himself, but he’s once again flashing big-time five-tool potential to start 2021, going 3-for-4 with a homer, a walk, a steal, and a pair each of runs scored and runs batted in.

Jose Urquidy is usually lauded for good command, but Laureano didn’t fail to take advantage of his slippage on Saturday, providing possibly the night’s most aesthetically pleasing home run on a hung 77-MPH curveball that started middle-middle and ended off the window behind the left field seats at Minute Maid Park. All three of his batted balls against Urquidy were hard hit, including a first-inning flyout that he just got under a tiny bit.

Beyond his prodigious power, Laureano managed to fill up all sides of the stat sheet. After stealing just two bases last year and 13 over nearly 500 PAs in 2019, Laureano stole his fifth base of the season on Saturday, far and away the league lead. Topping out around 28 feet per second last year, he’s an above-average if unspectacular runner, so we probably shouldn’t expect a 50-steal pace to keep up. However, with a 27/5 SB/CS ratio on his career, it’s clear that he has good instincts on the basepaths, and an increased emphasis on stealing could see him standing in scoring position a lot this season.

The walk he drew yesterday was his first of the year, but if he can maintain something in the vicinity of the 10% walk rate he posted last year (or even the 9.3% he saw as a rookie in 2018), this is potentially a true triple-threat on offense that doesn’t come along every day.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

Trey Mancini (BAL): 1-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI.

A 1-5 day from someone who slashed .291/.364/.535/35/97 in 2019 would ordinarily be totally unremarkable, but it’s worth shouting out Mancini for his first longball of the 2021 season after missing all of 2020 thanks to a bout with colon cancer. It’s been a slow start to the year for the outfielder, but a game-high 112 MPH on his dinger indicates the power is more than intact.

Juan Soto (WSH): 2-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.

One of the more surprising developments of Washington’s delayed season is that as it turns out, this Soto kid is pretty dang good! With five walks to just two strikeouts on the year even without drawing a free pass last night, it looks like we may be witnessing the beginning of a Williams-esque endeavor for the Santo Domingo native. Saturday’s effort now makes him one of ten players to record at least eight multi-HR games before age-23, giving him a substantial show at joining Eddie Matthews (13), Gleyber Torres, Mel Ott, Bob Horner, and Bryce Harper as the only players with double-digit multi-homer games at that fresh age.

Bo Bichette (TOR): 2-4, 2 2B, 3 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB.

Speaking of fresh ages, Bichette seems as good of a highlight as any for a game in which five Blue Jays recorded multiple hits, and three had at least three runs batted in. It’s been a slow start to the year for Bichette, and his violent, high-effort swing and its requisite holes are likely to go through some rough patches, but his two doubles on Saturday demonstrate why he’s such a special young hitter. To simultaneously have the bat speed to turn swing number one into a double, and the patience/pitch recognition/bat control to turn swing number two into a double is a rare thing:

Tim Locastro (ARI): 4-5, 2 R, 1 SB.

The fastest man on earth strikes again, singling in pretty much every way imaginable, from infield grass grounders to loopy liners and 107 MPH scorchers. He also stole his record 28th consecutive base without getting caught. Locastro has now started three consecutive games and won’t be overly pressed for competition in the brutal Arizona lineup; should he continue to start and leadoff, he’ll be someone to keep an eye on in category leagues.

Nelson Cruz (MIN): 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB.

We’d be much happier people if age were as theoretical a construct as it seems to be for Cruz, with the 41-year old’s fourth bomb of the year moving him into a tie for the American League lead. It was his second hit of the day against Yusei Kikuchi, and have ended the day slashing .458/.481/1.000 with nine runs batted it, the four-pitch walk he drew from Rafael Montero is eminently understandable.

Avisaíl García (MIL): 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB.

García provided one of three five-RBI performances on the night, propelling the Brew Crew to victory with two-run extra-base hits in the fifth and seventh innings, giving him a 31.5% Win Probability Added that was second across the Majors last night. His two hits both had exit velocities of greater than 110 MPH+, so while he’s struggled to a .644 OPS this season, it’s good to see that he’s hitter the ball as hard as ever.

Randy Arozarena (TB): 3-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI.

This guy named Randy now has a hit in all seven of his starts this year, but Saturday was just his second multi-hit effort, driving in one and scoring one in the Rays’ 4-0 win over the Yankees. He used all his tools to make Domingo Germán’s day difficult, first flashing 70-grade speed in legging out an infield single before turning on a wheelhouse fastball for a 420-feet homer to dead center. With a sixth-inning single clocking in at 107.3 MPH, Arozarena had two of the game’s three hardest-hit balls.

Brandon Crawford (SF): 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB.

Gerrit Cole’s brother-in-law provided one of the night’s more dramatic moments, leading all hitters with 44% Win Probability added after his go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth inning turned out to be the difference maker in the Giants’ 4-3 win.

Trent Grisham (SD): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB.

Tack on an extra base hit, and Grisham made himself the southern California edition of Crawford for the evening, with his game-changing two-run homer in the seventh putting the Padres on top of the Rangers for good. After missing almost exactly a month with a hamstring strain, it’s good to see the San Diego outfielder rounding back into form early as a multi-tool threat in the heart of the Padres lineup.

Cesar Hernandez (CLE): 3-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI.

Entering Saturday with just two hits on the season, Hernandez more than doubled his total against the Tigers yesterday, coming up a triple short of the cycle in Cleveland’s 11-3 blowout win. Hernandez sneakily led the American League with 20 doubles last year, and while his stolen base totals have evaporated, his sprint speed remained in the 90th percentile last season. Cleveland will need Hernandez to continue to be a sparkplug in the absence of this one other infielder they used to have, who might be on the Mets now.

Jordan Luplow (CLE): 2-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 5 RBI.

Luplow continues to play Pennywise the Clown to all the frightened left-handers of the AL Central, this time taking Tarik Skubal 432 feet to dead center field while also hitting two other batted balls at 105 MPH or greater, including another double off of right-hander Bryan García. Luplow continues to be defined by his platoon splits, remaining an afterthought against right-handers (career 57 wRC+) while producing a Maysian 154 wRC+ against southpaws, a trend worth noting in deep daily leagues

Jed Lowrie (OAK): 2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI.

A day after reports emerged detailing what could lightly be described as medical malpractice surrounding Lowrie’s injuries during his time with the Mets, Lowrie registered his fourth multi-hit game of the 2021 season, and in spite of his age and a long layoff, his Baseball Savant sliders show a player who might still have quite a bit left in the tank:

Ryan McMahon (COL): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI.

Just like we all anticipated, the league’s home run leader after a week is a Rockies infielder. Right? McMahon smacked his fifth dinger of the year on Saturday, making a very nice start to the year for the powerful infielder who fell off badly in 2020 after looking like a potential keeper in 2019.

Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Zach Hayes

Zach is based in Chicago and contributes analysis and coverage for Pitcher List and South Side Sox. He also co-hosts the Shaggin' Flies podcast with Ben Palmer, and enjoys reading, Justin Fields highlights, and people-watching on the CTA.

One response to “Resting on his Laureanos”

  1. CJ03 says:

    Can we get a Vlad Jr, up in here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login