On Sunday, the A’s turned one of the more incredible and stupid double plays that’s been turned in the highlight era. In case you haven’t seen it, watch the play because no amount of description will do it justice.
On the call, Glenn Kuiper called it the greatest double play you’ll ever see. I don’t know about that. It’s impressive, improbable, and extremely fun. But great? Ramón Laureano had to make an amazing play to record one out, but the second out was only made possible with a sequence of screw-ups. I don’t think I’ve watched a play that made me re-evaluate the limits of human ability despite being bad baseball.
We know that Ramón Laureano has a cannon. The first thing he did he was double up a runner at first on a similar play.
The distance on that throw—321 feet—is unprecedented, but what made that play otherworldly is that he hit Matt Olson in the chest. It was a perfect throw, and it rightfully gave Laureano notoriety. He’s very, very good.
But his throw on Sunday was among the worst I’ve ever seen in a game. Yes, I’ve seen this throw from Raúl Ibañez:
And this throw from Ryan Raburn:
If Laureano makes the same throw in anywhere but Oakland, the ball is going into the stands. Throwing a ball into the first-base side seats shouldn’t be possible from the left-center warning track, so this is as impressive as it is bad. Or at least that’s what I thought at first.
We know that Laureano can throw in the upper nineties because of plays like this.
It’s not unusual to see an outfielder throw that hard or to even break triple digits. What is unusual is to see a player throw the ball that high. If I had to guess, I’d say that most throws are less than a 15 degree “launch angle.” Laureano’s was probably closer to 30. Of course, it went farther.
We don’t see players throw the ball that far because they don’t try. I don’t know how many outfielders are capable of throwing the ball as far as Laureano, but it’s probably a lot.
What’s dumb is that had he hit his target, he wouldn’t have gotten the double play. I’m not even sure that the A’s would have even had a shot if Laureano hit the cutoff man instead of throwing a ball with four seconds of hangtime.
The unsung hero in this play was Nick Hundley, who had to make an off-balance throw get Justin Smoak on a TOOTBLAN. Unlike Laureano’s, Hundley’s throw went where it was meant to go.
The play to rob Teoscar Hernández was excellent, no doubt. But let’s not pretend that it was the greatest double play ever. Heck, it wasn’t even the greatest double play featuring an outfield assist from Ramón Laureano.