Going 1-for-4 is seldom a bad night in baseball, and the White Sox will have to take it when it comes to defensive excellence.
While the White Sox placed five finalists among four positions for the Gold Gloves, Luis Robert is the only one who will take home the league’s top honors, as he was named — or more accurately, determined to be — the top center fielder in the American League this year.
The outfielders flanking Robert were interviewed on ESPN’s presentation, but Robert’s reaction was left to a White Sox press release:
“I have always dreamed of winning a Gold Glove, so this is a dream come true. I joked around this season with Yolmer Sánchez about the possibility of winning it one day and being a Gold Glover like him,” said Robert. “I felt happy with my defense, but I know I can do more and be better. I have to thank Daryl Boston because he helped me adjust to the big leagues and taught me to take better advantage of my defensive skills. This award is a motivation for me.”
Each team only saw one-third of the league during the 60-game 2020 season, so the Gold Gloves were determined entirely by the Society for American Baseball Research’s SABR Defensive Index, with no subjective contributions from voters. You can see the margins of victory for yourself.
In center field, Robert beat out Byron Buxton by one-tenth of a run, 5.6 to 5.5. The other positions where the White Sox were in the running weren’t nearly as contested. Danny Mendick finished a surprising second behind Cesar Hernandez at second base, but Hernandez lapped the field, 5.6 to 2.6. Considering Mendick played only 28 games at second, that’s not a bad half-year’s work.
At third, Yoán Moncada (2.9) finished behind both Isiah Kiner-Falefa (4.7) and Gio Urshela (4.0), although he was on the podium by a convincing margin (Joey Wendle was fourth at 1.3).
And while the White Sox placed two catchers in the top three, Yasmani Grandal (2.9) and James McCann (2.5) finished behind Robert Pérez (5.1), whose ability to kill the running game landed him his second consecutive Gold Glove behind the plate.
So that leaves Robert as the lone White Sox to take home top honors, but he’s set up for future glory. He mixed in stealing flies from Eloy Jiménez with a number of highlight-reel plays, including his most impressive catch to date against the Royals …
Yet Robert didn’t play a perfect center field. Most notably, a cluster of home runs later in the year showed that he doesn’t yet have a great sense of timing or space near the wall. There’s room to improve, and James Fegan says that Robert is well aware.
There’s an unhurried gait to the way Robert gallops through the outfield now. His top speed is only employed when needed, which Rowand considers a coaching accomplishment. Robert thinks his timing on home-run robberies could be better, so he focuses his intensity on that and he has the athleticism and intention to pull it off.
If he can add some wall-scaling heroics to his highlight reel, the next several Gold Gloves might also find it difficult to stay out of his grasp.
The White Sox said that Robert is the franchise’s first rookie to win a Gold Glove, its fifth outfielder overall, and the first in 50 years. He joins Minnie Miñoso (1957, 1960), Jim Landis (1961-64), Tommie Agee (1966) and Ken Berry (1970).
- P: Griffin Canning, Angels
- C: Roberto Perez, Cleveland
- 1B: Evan White, Seattle
- 2B: Cesar Hernandez, Cleveland
- 3B: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas
- SS: J.P. Crawford, Seattle
- LF: Alex Gordon, Kansas City
- CF: LUIS ROBERT, WHITE SOX
- RF: Joey Gallo, Texas
- P: Max Fried, Atlanta
- C: Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati
- 1B: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
- 2B: Kolten Wong, St. Louis
- 3B: Nolan Arenado, Colorado
- SS: Javier Báez, Cubs
- LF: Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis
- CF: Trent Grisham, San Diego
- RF: Mookie Betts, Dodgers
Congratulations to La Pantera!
I can’t believe it’s been 50 years. I remember Tommie Agee and Ken Berry (the bandit) winning. I grew up assuming the Sox would pretty much always have a gold glove outfielder (Ken Berry (1970), Tommie Agee (1966), Jim Landis (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964) and Minnie Miñoso (1957, 1960)) – maybe a new Golden Age is upon us.
It’s incredible to think about Robert’s floor now. At worst, he’s a big, fast, incredible defensive CF, who showed off every defensive skill you could want from a rookie, all while showing a ton of pop with the bat, and a better eye than expected, at least early in the year.
If he develops consistency at the plate (maybe settling into a happy medium between his early season form and end of season slump) while either adding home run robberies or more outfield assists, that’s a guaranteed All-Star most years. If he hits more like he did at the beginning of the year than the end, that’s an MVP candidate every year. No matter what happens with this team in the coming years, Robert is likely to be an extremely fun and exciting player to watch play baseball, on a team full of guys that are extremely fun and exciting to watch play baseball.
I’m not letting the word floor enter my mind. He’s Willie Mays.