After the first month of the season, Luis Robert was looking like a lock to win American League Rookie of the Year honors.
The five-tool center fielder was also drawing some pretty dramatic comparisons.
Stepping right into the Opening Day lineup after signing a six-year, $50 million contract on Jan. 2, Robert came out slashing. Over 33 games in late July and August, the 23-year-old Cuban hit .298/.348/.612 with eight doubles, 10 home runs, 24 RBIs, 22 runs and four stolen bases.
“Every baseball player, or every athlete, you all want to be the best,” Robert said through a translator. “The only thing I can control is just do the best that I can and be the best I can be. In that aspect, if the results are good, the results are bad, that’s something I can control.”
Even the best rookies hit a wall at some point, and Robert ran smack into one in September. He hit .105/.216/.145 with only one extra-base hit (home run) while constantly pulling off the ball and chasing pitches well out of the strike zone.
“He is a talented specimen, a talented individual who can do a lot of different things,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Power—he can spray the ball around the field if he wants to.
“The reality is, you have a young man coming into the big leagues and no matter how talented you are, the hitter starts thinking he’s off on his mechanics or something and then, you realize maybe you are chasing pitches and it’s a little bit of a circle. You try to keep him calm and moving.”
Robert closed the season on a high note, going 5-for-11 against the Cubs over the final three games.
“I feel better,” he said. “You have to stick with your plan. You have to stick with the things that have gained you results throughout your career. Sometimes when you’re struggling, you try to change your approach or your mindset at home plate and that makes things worse.”
— The No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 draft, lefthander Garrett Crochet joined the big league bullpen in September and wowed everyone with a 101 mph fastball and six scoreless innings. The Tennessee product will get a long look as a starter in spring training.
— Farm director Chris Getz raved about outfielder Blake Rutherford‘s development at the club’s alternate training site in Schaumburg, Ill. “We simplified an approach, an approach that fits his profile,” Getz said. “We focused on putting him in a position to drive the baseball.”