Three stories about Luis Robert, and one lesson

No. 1: Luis Robert is no ordinary rookie, in no ordinary year — Forbes

Tony Blegino, formerly the assistant general manager for the Seattle Mariners, wrote for a period at FanGraphs with an emphasis on contact quality. He’s now doing the same for Forbes, and he likes what he sees from Luis Robert, because he’s getting great exit velocities regardless of the launch angle. Some guys can only hit the ball hard into the ground, while other hitters top everything they don’t elevate. Blegino sees Robert striking a fine balance.

First, let’s look at the bat. Robert crushes the baseball, both in the air and on the line, posting identical average exit speeds of 96.2 MPH to date in both categories. That’s good for over two standard deviations above league average fly ball authority, and over one standard deviation above league average line drive authority. […]

If you read my piece from earlier this week on the perils of excess ground ball pulling, you saw that a large group of hitters are so fixated on increasing launch angle that they don’t hit their liners or grounders very hard. Robert hasn’t fallen into that trap. He also has maintained a very reasonable pop up rate for a power hitter. In fact, his average launch angle of 11.7 degrees has room to grow before he enters any danger zones.

No. 2: Defense? Robert is elite at that, too — MLB.com

It wasn’t Adam Engel‘s fault that he started more than anybody else in center field over the course of multiple seasons, but part of the reason why it was exasperating was that he didn’t need to hit all that well to hold the job. A .250 average probably would have given him enough of an OBP and slugging percentage to support his above-average defense and become a credible second-division starter. Instead, he hit .215, with a late boost thanks to more regular platooning in 2019.

As well as Engel can play center — he was a finalist for a Gold Glove — Robert’s a cut above, and with comparatively little stateside experience. Heading into the second month of his MLB career, he’s already handling just about everything he can in center, and he can handle a lot thanks to his top-of-the-line speed and above-average reads.

Applying the Engel standards to Robert, the Cuban Piss Missile producer would probably only need to hit .230 or thereabouts to support his other skills. Instead, he’s hitting .277/.333/.577, which pairs with his defense to thrust him into the MVP conversation.

No. 3: Cardinals had big swing and miss on emerging White Sox star Luis Robert — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

While White Sox fans find it hard to escape Fernando Tatis Jr.‘s daily highlights, columnist Ben Frederickson is experiencing similar pangs of jealousy from Robert. St. Louis was the runner-up for his services, and while Robert would fit into just about every outfield, the Cardinals could use him more than most.

Most of you know about Robert by now. The Cardinals had a shot to sign the 23-year-old Cuban sensation in May 2017. The Redbirds had the benefit of not having to compete with big spenders like the Dodgers, Red Sox and Cubs because of international dollars those clubs had previously committed. But the White Sox won out. They offered Robert more. They spent little time worrying about what he might not be, and bet on the belief many shared, one that said this young man was going to make it big. The White Sox handed Robert a $26 million signing bonus that cost them double that due to an international spending tax. Since then they signed Robert to an extension that could pay him $88 million if team options are picked up through his age-29 season. So far, it looks like a steal.

The White Sox’s pursuit of Robert was refreshingly straightforward. He made all the sense in the world for their rebuild from the moment he became available, and the Sox didn’t dick around. They were visible from the start, and despite having a considerable emotional appeal with their renowned Cuban lineage, they didn’t try to leverage that connection for savings. They paid all of the necessary dollars to get it done, and they’re not regretting a single one at the moment.

Contrast that to the Manny Machado deal, where the White Sox signed up for a friends and family plan in hopes of giving him a contract that guaranteed less than he wanted, ending with Rick Hahn patting the Sox on the back for having the world’s most creative insufficient offer. After a so-so San Diego debut, Machado is hitting .301/.369/.596 with 12 homers and 33 RBIs for the Padres this year. He’s on pace for a 7-WAR season, and one of the big reasons why the Padres are the darlings of the National League.

The White Sox seem to be winning hearts of the impartial in their half of Major League Baseball, so they might ultimately be fine without Machado. But that doesn’t mean they lucked out by coming up short. That’s sour grapes, and it’s also not picking open a scab by saying so. I’m nodding my head at Machado’s surge, because that means the White Sox accurately identified a talent worth beating their previous record contract four times over, even if they needed to get closer to fivefold in order to seal the deal. If Machado cratered in San Diego, I’d be less relieved that the Sox dodged a bullet, and more worried that they still can’t scout other teams’ MLB players.

Keep him in mind when watching Robert, because both players validate the idea of committing to quality, especially for a team that often finds itself in the role of the poor man who pays twice. Do it right, and there no buyer’s remorse, only exhilaration.

(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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dwjm3

Looking back on it now I wonder if not even offering Harper a contract was the biggest mistake of that offseason.

We weren’t really privy to their meeting so maybe the White Sox brass walked out of it feeling like they had no shot to sign me.

The way they handled that offseason still bothers me every time I see Mazara in right field.

I suppose not to worry Coop will fix Mazara 🙂

Trooper Galactus

Wait, is this Bryce Harper’s burner account?

dwjm3

Bryce isn’t aware of Don Cooper’s horse whisperer abilities and thus it can’t be him. Ignore the man behind the curtain.

NateDPT12

I always though Harper was a better fight anyways because it would’ve created depth in the outfield that you could’ve used for trade pieces. You don’t need Rutherford, Adolfo, Gonzalez etc. if you have Eloy, Robert, Harper as your outfield for the better part of the next decade. You could’ve traded some of those guys before Birmingham sapped their value. Adding Harper’s power and patience from the left side would’ve made this lineup other worldly.

That said the biggest issue isn’t even that they didn’t sign Harper or Machado last off-season. It’s that they did nothing at all. They should’ve targeted this year for the year to contend and used that off-season to start building towards that instead of trying to do everything this past off-season.

Trooper Galactus

My trepidation remains the same as always: this team has the ingredients to be an elite contender, but Hahn’s previous efforts to put the finishing touches on such a team have been resounding failures. If Jerry closes his wallet this offseason, Hahn will be under the gun to find productive players on the cheap, something he’s not been particularly good at in the past (and which the Mazara trade suggests he still struggles with).

itaita

I might have the wrong mindset but my angle is Jerry doesn’t let Hahn put the proper finishing touches by not opening the wallet. I dont know if we will know how many possible deals and stuff were nixed cause Reinsdorf did not want to crack open the bank.

I guess its just less confidence in Jerry as an owner then Rick as a GM.

BuehrleMan

i don’t understand what ‘cuban piss missle crisis’ is supposed to mean. what is it referring to? i know what the cuban missle crisis is, and i know that abreu, moncada, and robert are cuban. somebody help me out.

jorgefabregas

Grandal is also Cuban

BuehrleMan

thanks. that’s a really stupid slang phrase but of course that’s not your fault.

LuBob DuRob

Piss missile = rocket line drive, scares the piss out of the fielder. I guess there was a meme featuring the Cuban Sox.