Scorching-hot Luis Robert could be Sox' biggest playoff bat

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Say hello to Luis Robert, the front runner for World Series MVP.

That, of course, is a tad hyperbolic at the moment. The Chicago White Sox have to make it to, and win, the Fall Classic for that to happen.

But to suggest that Robert, with only 120 big league games under his belt after Tuesday's 7-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds, could be the White Sox' biggest bat in the postseason?

RELATED: How José Abreu is leading Sox heading into playoffs

That's no exaggeration.

"There are times which make me feel like you can do everything on the field," Robert said after the game, through team interpreter Billy Russo, "and you can dominate."

Robert has been on absolute fire since returning from a months-long absence in the middle of the season. He tore his hip flexor in early May and was the subject of countless "when he gets back" conversations, along with fellow middle-of-the-order hitter Eloy Jiménez. Now he's back — well, he's been back for two months — and is tearing the cover off the ball, coming into Tuesday with a .364/.398/.611 slash line to go along with nine homers and 30 RBIs since returning Aug. 9.

And then he hit two homers against the Reds.

Hyperbole and Robert have long gone together, but the 24-year-old center fielder is, in what is a nascent major league career, showing that all that grand talk, all those huge statements about his potential, might have been right on the money.


"He's playing to his huge talent, and he's producing huge (offensively), he plays defense huge," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "Around the clubhouse, he never walks around like a 'dig me' kind of player. If you look at the great ones, like (Derek) Jeter and guys like that, they have their feet firmly planted. Their ego doesn't overwhelm them. They have talent and play to their talent.

"He's just trying to win a game, catch a ball, make a throw or hit. ... He's got his ego in check, and it's very important. It gives him a chance to be very good for a long time."

It was Jiménez who called Robert the next Mike Trout at a SoxFest of recent vintage. It was an eye-popping comment at the time. Guess what, though? As of next week, Robert will have more postseason appearances than a guy who perhaps the greatest player in baseball history.

Robert also already knows what it's like to star in the postseason. You might remember the jaw-dropper of a moonshot he hit last fall in Oakland, a ball that traveled a ridiculous 487 feet.

The second of his two blasts Tuesday went only 445 feet, but it brought to mind that kind of titanic shot, the kind of awe-inspiring damage he can do to a baseball — and the kind of stuff he could do during a lengthy postseason run.

"That's what I'm trying to do, just carry this moment to the postseason," Robert said. "Honestly, that's what everybody in the clubhouse is trying to do, just get there, (do) our best and have a good performance there.

"I feel more prepared because of the experience that I gained last year. ... I was feeling good last year in the postseason. And this year, I am feeling good going into the postseason, too. I think right now, it's just more experience that I have."

The home runs are spectacular. Robert called hitting a bomb like the one he sent toward Lake Michigan on Tuesday "the best feeling that a hitter can feel." Then you remember that he's already won a Gold Glove and has speed and an arm, too. La Russa and Frank Thomas calling Robert a "six-tool player" in spring training sounded like hyperbole.

But maybe not?

White Sox fans know all this already, of course, how deadly a predator La Pantera is. But they still get rightfully amazed by the nightly reminders.

Now, it's time for the baseball world to find out, too.

On the biggest stage, in October, Robert could be the brightest of the White Sox' stars, the driving force of a lineup that contains a batting-champion shortstop, a Silver Slugger left fielder and an MVP first baseman. An offense that was projected to mash has been inconsistent all season long — before, during and after the significant injuries that defined much of the campaign. Robert might not be able to drag it into consistency all by himself, but he could provide a lot of the damage that the lineup as a whole was expected to do.


Think that's a little much to ask of one player? Think that's exaggerating a little bit?

Go ask the Reds. Then remember all the other times an assessment of Robert seemed a little over the top.

And that he's matched them each and every time.

Because it seems that when it comes to Luis Robert, there's no such thing as hyperbole.

Click here to follow the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Download MyTeams Today!