Athletics

There's more to A's slugger Mark Canha's epic bat flips than you think

There's more to A's slugger Mark Canha's epic bat flips than you think

A’s slugger Mark Canha is well known for triumphant bat flips after launching a homer. While opposing pitchers surely don't love it, it's part of Canha's persona.

So let’s first get those questions and answers out of the way first.

NBC Sports California: Does much thought ever go into the act?
Canha: “It’s always spur of the moment.”
 
How do you instantly recognize a homer?
“When you feel the right launch angle, you can tell, typically.”
 
Ever worry about going overboard with the expression?
“It’s got to be swaggy but not disrespectful.“

But what you may not know is that Canha actually takes tons of interest and science into the choice of bats he flips.

“It’s a 34 inch, 31.5 ounce, Model 271,” Canha explained during A's spring training. “Which means it’s a small barrel, super skinny. One of the skinniest barrels you can use.”

The grip end of Canha’s bats are also quite specific.

“I use an axe handle which is unique,” Canha detailed. “I’ve always liked the way It felt, super ergonomic, fits in my hand nicely.”


Mark Canha's bats in the bat rack at Hohokam Stadium during spring training

For the record, Canha was an economics major in college, at Cal-Berkeley. But next, he’s about to bust out some physics on you. 

“They say you want more weight into less surface area of the barrel to provide the most density of the wood,” Canha explained. “So when I hit the ball, I want the bat to feel hard.”

How does that apply to baseball strategy?

“I would rather the ball go out of the stadium when I do hit it, rather than hit it more often, but not as hard. I want the bang for your buck.”

[RELATED: How Canha followed social media trend to work on hitting]

Canha hit a career-high 26 homers last season, and upped his batting average 24 points from the previous year. We can only hope we get his bat flips back in our lives soon.

Ramón Laureano: Everything to know about A's do-it-all outfielder

Ramón Laureano: Everything to know about A's do-it-all outfielder

One positive thing that most of us reading this will ever have to do is we’ll never have to run on Ramón Laureano. We can thank our lucky stars for that.

The A’s centerfielder had possibly one of the best catches of the season in 2019 when -- well, just watch:

Shameless NBC Sports California plug aside, Laureano made it look easy, and not only on the catch. He also robbed Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto of a home run in the process.

So we know he can throw, he can hit and all of the typical baseball things, but what else?

The numbers

It has to be said we have yet to see the best of Laureano.

The 25-year-old slashed .288/.340/.521 last season which was good for an .860 OPS.

Then there’s that arm. 

Laureano is properly nicknamed “Lazor” for the way he’s able to dart a ball from the tippest point of centerfield to anywhere there was a runner attempting to get an extra bag.

It was one night in August 2018 against the Los Angeles Angels when an “Oh my god!” was shouted by NBC Sports California’s Dallas Braden on the broadcast to see Laureano throw from center TO FIRST BASE for a double play. At 321 feet, it had been the longest throw to complete a double play in the Statcast era.


The background

Born in the Dominican Republic, Laureano was drafted out of Northeast Oklahoma A&M in the 16th round by the Houston Astros in 2014 and was traded to the A’s in 2017 for minor leaguer Brandon Bailey. He made his A’s big league debut on Aug. 3, 2018, against Detroit. 

When Laureano was a younger prospect, he was compared to another Astros youngster Teoscar Hernandez in a scouting report by MLB Pipeline in 2017 but was said to be more of a “pure hitter,” with less power potential. He was also called an “above average defender,” which we already knew.

If you’re a fantasy baseball player, he’s also listed as a top-30 outfielder heading into the 2020 season.

Now for the important stuff

Long-time friend of Laureano, Ricky Rivera, gave me some details about the star-studded outfielder’s off-the-field hobbies.

During quarantine, Laureano picked up golf and really wanted to perfect his craft at video game MLB: The Show. He was playing the game a lot during quarantine to pass the time and had a group of eight or so guys get together and play. It sounds like it got quite competitive as well.

He’s also a dog lover, as Rivera described. Which at first, he didn’t think was a very random fact about Laureano, but we can all agree dog people are the best people.

[RELATED: A's hilariously sport Mike Fiers' facial hair facemask]

If you look anywhere on content written about Laureano, one notion that sticks out is his work ethic. In an interview with Rivera, who played with him at Northeast Oklahoma A&M, he said even though they were on the same team, Laureano would arrive at practice hours earlier. He was probably also the last one to leave.

“He’s always working out or talking baseball,” Rivera told NBC Sports California recently.

It shows. 

A's tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes Astros, Dodgers in opening week

A's tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes Astros, Dodgers in opening week

Before 2020’s regular season has officially begun, MLB announced the tentative schedules of all 30 clubs for next season on Thursday. The A’s open up the 2021 campaign at home against the Houston Astros on April 1.

This will also be the first time since 1968 all 30 teams will play their first game of the season on the same day.

For the most part, it will be regular-schedule programming for the A's with the AL West matchups against the Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers. 

But April will have the A’s also starting the season against the possibly Mookie Betts-less Los Angeles Dodgers right after their Houston home series then they head to Minute Maid Park directly after that. That’s quite a competitive sandwich. But the balls tend to fly there which is a boost for the A's. 

If things stay the same, which is never the case in baseball, there shouldn’t be too many surprises for Oakland next season as far as the competitive circuit goes. 

The Battle of Bay against the geographically rivaled Giants will take place three times in 2021. The first being an exhibition series, as the teams usually have, March 28-29. During the regular season, they will meet back at Oracle Park June 25-27 and later at the Coliseum Aug. 20-22. After that, the New York Yankees come to town to play Aug. 26-28 in Oakland. 

The A’s will also host the Boston Red Sox on July 4th and wrap up the season on the road against the Astros Oct. 1-3.

[RELATED: A's alternate 2020 site could be Giants affiliate's park]

Here’s a look at the entire tentative schedule: