Laureano's hot start to May: 3 games, 3 HRs

Center fielder breaks tie in 5th, powers A's to win over Jays

May 4th, 2021

OAKLAND -- You never know what The Ramón Laureano Show might bring on any given night. But you can always expect something exciting to transpire.

Laureano’s power has been his latest impressive skill on display. Homering for the third consecutive game to help back up a quality start by Frankie Montas in Monday night’s 5-4 win over the Blue Jays at the Oakland Coliseum, the A’s center fielder continues to show off his many dynamic abilities this season.

Paired with a loss by the Royals, Laureano’s clutch performance lifted the A’s to the best record in the American League at 18-12, a position that was hard to imagine they’d find themselves in last month during their 0-6 start.

“He’s been the guy that is putting us back in the game,” Montas said of Laureano. “He did it [Sunday], and he did it again today. He’s been showing up good for the team.”

The A’s are clearly a different club when they’re hitting balls out of the park on a consistent basis. With two more homers on Monday, they are now tied for the most in the AL with 39. They also improved to 15-1 when out-homering opposing teams this season.

Though Laureano’s home run against the Blue Jays wasn’t as dramatic as his eighth-inning homer on Sunday afternoon against the Orioles, it was just as important. His sixth homer of the season – a two-run shot off Toronto starter Steven Matz that broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth -- left the bat at 109.4 mph, per Statcast. Traveling a projected 432 feet, the ball reached a spot usually reserved for only the game’s most prolific sluggers, clearing the first section of the left-field bleachers and bouncing up against one of the suites above.

The “five-tool” term is tossed around frequently these days, but it may be an apt description for the player Laureano is morphing into. He has eight stolen bases, tied for the MLB lead. He constantly thrills on defense with both his arm and glove, turning in highlight-reel plays like his run-saving catch in Sunday’s win. He also began Monday’s game in style with a leaping catch on a ball hit by Blue Jays leadoff batter Cavan Biggio.

Now, Laureano is flexing his pop amid his recent power surge, during which he's hit five homers over his past 11 games. More importantly, he’s hitting them at times when the A’s need them most.

“He goes out and consistently delivers game-winning performances,” said A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who hit a two-run homer in the second. “He plays at 100 miles an hour. He’s a cannon ball, and he fires us up. He’s been carrying us these last few games.”

It’s only taken Laureano 27 games to reach six homers after not hitting that mark until his 54th game last season. But A’s manager Bob Melvin has always known the strength that Laureano's bat possesses. The attribute that Melvin said is taking Laureano to five-tool status this year is his baserunning. It’s something the 26-year-old outfielder has worked on diligently with veteran newcomer Elvis Andrus this year, constantly picking the shortstop’s brain to get a better understanding of how to study pitchers and get good jumps.

“He’s got tremendous power,” Melvin said. “The running game, he’s taken to a different level. That was kind of probably the last tool in his bag to get to this level right now.”

Finishing 2-for-4, Laureano raised his average to .243. That number will need to keep going up before he's truly mastered the contact portion of his five-tool bag. His career-best mark was .288 in 2019, but don’t be surprised if he makes a run at eclipsing that with the way he’s currently going. It’s already climbing, as he's hitting .300 (12-for-40) over his past 10 games.

“The next thing will be a consistent average and maybe hitting close to .300,” Melvin said. “I wouldn’t put anything past him.”