Robert looking to build off up-and-down rookie season with Sox

  • White Sox center fielder Luis Robert reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Athletics during Game 3 of a wild-card series Oct. 1 in Oakland, Calif.

    White Sox center fielder Luis Robert reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Athletics during Game 3 of a wild-card series Oct. 1 in Oakland, Calif. Associated Press

Updated 10/18/2020 5:47 PM

Luis Robert wasted little time showing off his skills this season.

Stepping into the White Sox's starting lineup in the opener, the 23-year-old center fielder hit .298/.348/.612 with 8 doubles, 10 home runs, 24 RBI, 22 runs scored and 4 stolen bases over his first 33 games.


Robert led the major leagues with an average exit velocity of 108.9 mph on his homers and was voted American League Rookie of the Month for late July/August.

It was a great way to start his career, and Robert was already getting early MVP consideration.

"Every baseball player, you want to be the best," he said through a translator. "If that means at the end of the season that I'm in the conversation for MVP, it would be good. But if I'm not, it would be good, too. The only thing I can control is just do the best that I can and be the best I can be, and do the best every day."

Making the game look so easy during the early going, Robert hit a rookie wall in September and the big numbers tumbled.

Hitting .298 at the end of August, a 6-fot-70 slump dropped his average to .220 on Sept. 23.

"From my small sample size with him last year, his approach to that is, 'I'm going to swing out of it,'" said new Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino, who was with Robert for the second half of the 2019 season at Class AAA Charlotte "Well, hold up now. That's what they want you to do. Try to swing out of it. So these are the important lessons he has to learn where sometimes less is more.

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"Go up there and see some pitches and prove to these guys you're not going to swing at everything. It's a learning experience for him. It was a learning experience for him in Triple-A. He went through these stretches in Triple-A. And they get it when they get it."

Robert did get it back when the White Sox needed him most.

Reeling down the stretch after becoming the AL's first team to clinch a playoff berth, Robert heated up (5-for-11) against the Cubs in the final series of the regular season.

In the playoffs, he was 4-for-13 with a 487-foot home run in Game 3.

Having gone through a rookie season that bounced from great to gruesome, Robert should benefit from the experience, become a more consistent hitter and ultimately reach the superstar status so many expect.

"September was a really bad month for me but I think the last two series I was better at the plate, my approach was better," Robert said. "Just having the experience to be in the playoff atmosphere, we didn't get the results as a team that we were expecting, that we wanted. But I think overall for me and for us, it was a good experience just because it was something new.

"For me especially, it's one I'll just add to the whole experience I had during the regular season and I truly believe it's going to put me in a better position for next year, it's going to make me a better player."


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