If you don’t yet know the name Ramón Laureano, it’s about time you learn.
The Oakland Athletics outfielder is considered by many to sport the best arm in baseball.
In 64 games with Triple-A Nashville last season, Laureano racked up 13 outfield assists. In 142 career games with the Athletics to date, he’s totaled 16 assists. His seven so far this season are tied for fourth-most in MLB, while his top throw speed of 100.8 mph ranks first.
Last year, MLB Network ranked this 321-foot bullet Laureano launched from the warning track in left center to first base as their Play of the Year:
You should probably just watch this entire highlight reel of bonkers throws from the 25-year-old Dominican star.
So to what can we attribute this howitzer of a throwing arm? Part of it is simply a gift that’s been honed over many years, but Laureano’s positioning and quick reactions consistently puts him in position to use that gift as effectively as possible.
Prior to games, he’ll often field ground balls and work on his transfer and release simply to get used to getting the ball from inside his glove to out of his hand as quickly as possible. He’s also honed in on tracking down balls as efficiently as possible, giving him the chance to turn what should be surefire doubles or triples into outs. From Jonah Keri of The Athletic:
It means making the right first step as often as possible, and covering as much ground as possible, as quickly as possible. In Oakland, the benchmark to be covered in the first 1.5 seconds after the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand is 10 feet; Laureano has recorded distances exceeding 12 feet. Once an outfielder picks up steam, (they’re) expected by Oakland’s coaches to cover an additional 30 feet in the next 1.5 seconds, for a total of 40 feet in the three seconds after the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand; in their April 29 game at Fenway Park, Laureano made one play in which he covered 46 feet in those three seconds, the biggest number the A’s staff has ever measured.
Laureano’s average “reaction” distance—which is the number of feet he covers in any direction during the first 1.5 seconds after contact—ranks second-highest in the MLB. He’s also clubbed 19 home runs this year, so he’s far from a one-dimensional player.
The next time you catch an A’s game, keep an eye out for the cannon-armed Laureano patrolling the outfield grass. You might just see him unleash the throw of the season.
Photo Credit: MLB