Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Will Ramon Laureano Rebound In 2021?

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It’s easy to dub the 2020 season a significant disappointment for Ramon Laureano, who took a significant step backwards across the board:

.213 (39-183), 6 HR, 25 RBI, 27 R, 2 SB

In 2019 he had hit .288 with 24 HR and 13 SB, so it’s fair to wonder exactly what went wrong. Opposing starters clearly started to change their approach against him, as the percentage of fastballs continued to drop since debuting in ’18:

  • 2018 – 58.39%
  • 2019 – 55.25%
  • 2020 – 50.89%

It is a change that makes sense, when you consider these numbers:

PitchAVGSLG
Fourseam.333.524
Sinker.282.462
Changeup.182.364
Slider.106.149
Curveball.211.526
Cut-Fastball.077.154

Why would opposing pitchers throw him a fastball unless they had to? Just further proving that point was his drop in both Exit Velocity (89.7 mph to 87.7) and Hard% (40.0% to 32.8%). It’s easy to point towards the change in approach of opposing pitchers, and if Laureano can’t adjust expecting a rebound is going to be nearly impossible.

We also shouldn’t be completely surprised that the power pace slowed, as his HR/FB went from 19.2% to 13.3%. It’s not like he was an extra base machine in ’19 (29 doubles and 24 HR), and he only managed 15 extra base hits in ’20 (8 doubles, 1 triples and 6 HR). Considering 12 of his home runs in ’19 came against fourseam fastballs and sinkers, it again comes down to the approach of opposing pitchers.

While Laureano’s SwStr% did improve (8.9%), is that enough? Could Laureano have rebounded if it was a full season? Unfortunately it’s hard to bank on either. The upside is there, but he’s nothing more than a depth option at this point.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball

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