Is Luis Robert actually UNDER RATED?
The White Sox off-season is off to a roaring start, with several arbitration eligible players being outright released into the wild like a brook trout of minimal size. Cesar Hernandez option being declined and Craig Kimbrel‘s being picked up. Lastly, Carlos Rodon was not offered a qualifying offer. The likely abbreviated first half of the off-season is in full swing.
Meanwhile, I just can’t stop thinking about Luis Robert. When we were winding down the 2019 season with a White Sox team that had some decent parts, all I could think about was getting the chance to watch him play Center Field at Sox Park. Then 2020 happened. The pandemic didn’t fully take baseball from us, but it did take in-person baseball from us, so seeing Luis in the flesh was not going to happen.
The 2021 season, even at partial capacities for much of the season, finally gave me a chance to see him play live. It was glorious, until May 2nd. It was a Sunday home game, and we were arriving a little late from our duties of performing the #SundaySoak POWERED BY GOOSEISLAND!! (Actually that week, we did the Soak on Saturday, so fuck if I know why we were running so late to the ballpark).
When we arrived at the ballpark, we were filled in by neighboring fans that Luis Robert had left the game with a leg injury. NOT. GOOD.
At the time, we were unsure when Luis would be back, if ever, during the 2021 season. However, since he’s a chiseled work out fanatic, he was back in break neck speed. Returning to the lineup on August 9th. He hit the ground absolutely running, smashing the competition for the following line….12 HR 35 RBI 31 Runs to go with a .350 / .389 / .622 batting line in 43 games over 193 PA for an fwar of 2.5. An absolutely MONSTER last 2 months to the season. It was almost as if Luis got better during his rehab from injury without seeing LIVE PITCHING. Seems impossible. It got me wondering. What would full year Luis Robert look like based on that performance.
Let’s Extrapolate and make a FULL YEAR Luis Robert
I know extrapolation isn’t generally the best way to project a players future. Particularly extrapolating a small, extremely favorable sample size, but FUCK IT!! We are going to do it anyways. Let’s assume 155 games for extrapolated small sample size Luis Robert (based on his final 2 months in 2021)….GO!
That lines up to the following numbers…. 696 PA 43 HR, 126 RBI, 112 Runs (and still a .350 / .389 / .622 batting line). This is an insane line, so I figured I would go to Baseball Reference and find the players that had those counting numbers together in a single season. Here they be.
This is a wild list. Basically the best hitters of the last 40 years (I ran this back to 1978, as per usual). Now, this is a full bore extrapolation and while I didn’t use the .350 batting average as part of the sample, that would exclude everyone on this list but 1997 Larry Walker. That seems a tad unrealistic, but let’s haircut extrapolated Luis’ numbers above by 10% and add the batting average in as part of the qualifications. Then let’s cut it off to just Center Fielders….
90% Extrapolated Luis Robert is still a STUD!!!
Those numbers are, 140 Games, 39 HR, 114 RBI, 101 Runs, batting line of .315 / .350 / .560. Now let’s run this back till well, the 1900’s and see what we get with those totals and the .315 batting average, but only for players that are materially centerfielders…..GO!!!!
These are the Center Fielders, ALL TIME that would’ve out done the full year 90% extrapolated Luis Robert numbers. Now that’s a fucking crazy list. I know this seems ham-fisted and possibly a bit of lazy analysis, but to me, the compounding effect of Luis still coming into his own as a major leaguer (he only has 523 career major league plate appearances and has a career batting line of .294 / .357 / .512, which includes a month where he didn’t have a clue in 2020). It’s possible that there are some remaining jumps in improvement ahead of Robert.
Maybe Luis Robert, IS the White Sox core. And maybe, just maybe, some of these wild extrapolations will start looking more like expectations as he matures.