Luis Robert made his major league debut in 2020 for the White Sox and immediately shined, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting and winning a Gold Glove. His bat cooled off in the second half of the year, but his fielding remained at a superb level throughout the shortened season. 2021 was a mixed year for Luis Robert. He excelled in the short time he played, but he was injured for the majority of the year. He finished the year with a .338/.378/.567 slash line–an incredible achievement for someone who hadn’t yet played a full season in the major leagues.
Luis Robert’s Areas of Improvement
Despite his successes, Luis Robert has faced a few issues that have remained consistent throughout his short career. The first, and the most obvious, is his eye. In his career, Robert has stepped up to the plate 523 times. In those plate appearances, Luis Robert has walked a grand total of 34 times. That means that he has a walk percentage of 6.5%, which is less than superb.
We’ve already touched on the second main issue before, and that’s his injury in 2021. It may not seem too big, but it was one of the main reasons that the White Sox didn’t go further in 2021. You can read more about that here. As I said in that article, Luis Robert will need to stay injury-free in 2022. That’s a daunting task considering the injury luck that the White Sox have had this year. In fact, it got so bad that they were forced to sign Johnny Cueto.
The pure explosiveness that Luis Robert brings to the table is nothing short of amazing. In 2020, Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook described Robert as having “the tools and skills to become a true face of the franchise”. On a 20 to 80 scale, they rated Power as a 70, meaning it’s a plus-plus. Think of Todd Frazier‘s power in his prime as a comparison.
I would be amiss to write an article about Luis Robert and not talk about his fielding. Where to start? Perhaps the 2020 Gold Glove as a rookie. Or maybe his 70 Arm rating. Or perhaps his 4 Outs Above Average in 2021. All of these point to the fact that he is an excellent fielder; one that will continue to grow in 2022.
To see his astonishing power, enjoy watching him belt a 487 foot home run.
All of this is well and good, but why is Luis Robert so important to the White Sox’s success in 2022?
To answer this, we must first realize that teams need explosive players to win titles. In other words, teams are only as good as their most explosive players. In 2020, it was Corey Seager for the Dodgers. For the 2021 World Series, it was Jorge Soler who came through for the Braves. In 2022, it will be Luis Robert for the White Sox.
Moreover, the White Sox will not only need Luis Robert in the playoffs, they will need him throughout the year. To make this happen, Robert will have to do 3 key things.
Luis Robert’s Keys To An Amazing 2022
Firstly, they need him to stay healthy. This is an obvious one and something that we already covered before. Secondly, they will need him to avoid extensive slumps. 2020 was a tale of two halves for Luis Robert. In the first half of the season, he was on fire. He had a 1.015 OPS in the month of August; however, he got ice cold in September as he had a .409 OPS.
I want to emphasis that the struggles that Luis Robert faced in the month of September weren’t completely his fault. In August, his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) was .352. That’s above league average, but he still would have done well had his BABIP been closer to league average. In September, his BABIP was horrendous at .204. BABIP isn’t something that a player has too much control over, meaning Robert got incredibly unlucky in September 2020. Be that as it may, he still struggled profusely and that cannot happen in 2022.
Thirdly, he needs to preform when the lights shine the brightest. That’s obviously a figure of speech, but what does that really mean? It means that Luis Robert needs to have the X-Factor. He needs to be a guy that the White Sox can rely on to make a big play.
Back when I played little league baseball, my coach, a former minor league player, emphasized that everyone needed to make plays. My coach would always yell out at the start of every inning, “Who’s going to make a play this inning?” In the biggest moments, when the game was close in the late innings, that phrase would hold extra meaning. As it turns out, I was not the one who was usually making those plays, but the best players on my team would. On the White Sox, that best player can be Luis Robert.
We can talk about stats and sabermetrics all we want, but at the end of the day, there’s two types of players. There’s players that make plays, and there’s players that don’t make plays. As I mentioned before, Luis Robert’s ability to make plays is unmatched. Therefore, he needs to step up and have a career year in 2022 for the White Sox to make a run to the World Series.
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