World Series champion, batting title, silver slugger award winner. That is what Juan Soto has accomplished in only four years in the big leagues. He has emerged as one of the games biggest stars.
Soto has finished in the top 10 of the National League MVP voting twice. During the 2020 season he tore through opposing pitchers leading the NL in batting average (.351) while also leading the entire MLB in on-base percentage (.490), slugging percentage (.695) and OPS (1.185).
Adam Eaton knows first hand how good Soto is. He had the chance to play alongside him in Washington. The two helped win a World Series with him in 2019. Now Eaton plays on the south side and he has noticed some similarities between Soto and one of the White Sox blossoming young stars.
“He learns every day, comes to the ballpark trying to learn and tries to get better,” the White Sox right fielder said.
“With all his attributes and skills, he reminds me a lot of (Washington Nationals star) Juan Soto. Juan was very talented, but every day tries to pick something up and be better. Luis is no different.”
“He comes to play and learn every day and, with his skills and ability to pick things up quickly, will make a very good player in this league for a long time. Both of those guys have parallel attributes and not just on the field. What really makes superstars in this league is the mental grind and being ready to learn every day and evolve. That has really impressed me.”
Robert has already complied some accolades of his own during his young career. Like Soto he finished runner up for Rookie of the Year. During his first postseason series he preformed admirably hitting .308 and hitting a home run. Robert also took home a Gold Glove award for his defensive work in center field.
Starting To Heat Up
People that have followed Robert while he came up through the minor leagues should not be surprised. He has been described by many as a “five tool player”, with Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa going as far as to call him a “six tool player”. Eloy Jimenez predicted that he would be the “next Mike Trout”.
Robert is not there yet. He went through some growing pains during his rookie season. His September was marred by a woeful slump. However he has bursted out of the gate in 2021 and has continued to get better as the weeks have gone on.
He entered Tuesday’s game in Cleveland leading the game with seven doubles and slashing .284/.329/.463. He’s got nine hits in his last 23 at-bats, four of them going for extra bases.
What’s the difference between last year? Robert is taking what the pitchers give him. His teammates are taking notice.
“He’s been looking really good,” White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal said. “As of late, he’s been shooting the ball to right field. It seems like early on when I played with him, he was trying to hit the moonshot and a lot of times he did. But it looks like he’s starting to take the base hits when they give it to him I think it’s a huge step for him.”
Robert is a year older than Juan Soto but that doesn’t mean that fans should be frustrated that Robert isn’t as polished as Soto yet. He has already shown the impact his glove can have on a game. With plenty of lineup support around him it is only a matter of time before Robert emerges into the elite offensive weapon the White Sox envisioned when they signed him.