Washington Nationals: Victor Robles primes himself for a breakout 2019
By Blake Finney
In his 2018 Report Card, we look at how Victor Robles has set himself up for a potentially huge breakout season in 2019 for the Washington Nationals.
In the next 2018 Report Card, we take a look at Victor Robles, who seems to be a big part of the Washington Nationals future. Just like last year, he flashed every bit of his elite upside in brief stints, and may now have won the starting centerfield job for the team in 2019.
There were scares that Robles’ 2018 season may have been over before it truly began early on in the year. He hyperextended his left elbow in just his fourth game with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, and initially, signs didn’t look good.
But he returned to action on July 7th, before getting the call back up to the big leagues on September 4th. He finished his MLB season with a .288/.348/.874 slash line, all while flashing his power-speed combo with three homers and three steals.
More from District on Deck
- A Washington Nationals Christmas Wishlist
- Washington Nationals: Is Seth Lugo Still an Option?
- Robots in Baseball? The Possibility of an Automated Ball/Strike System in the MLB
- Washington Nationals Re-Sign RHP Erasmo Ramirez
- Washington Nationals Sign RHP Trevor Williams
The Positives for Robles
In terms of raw tools, there probably isn’t anyone who can match the combination of all five that Victor Robles possesses. The ability to hit for contact and power, the speed in the field and on the bases and has an excellent arm in the outfield. He’s still under rookie limits, and is surely the odds-on favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2019 as things stand.
With that game-changing speed, manager Davey Martinez wanted to trial out the youngster in the leadoff spot. It was a rousing success as the outfielder put up a 1.067 OPS from the top spot in the lineup. Whether he actually hits there when 2019 rolls around is a different matter, given there are capable options in Adam Eaton and Trea Turner. However, it was excellent experience and it wouldn’t be surprising if he wound up there eventually.
Areas for Improvement
While this year’s injury is something of a freak incident, it will be something to watch going forward in his career. As we all saw in September, he was a player who loves to play with his hair on fire, and his injury occurred on a full speed diving catch in centerfield. Robles also has a reputation of being hit by pitches with a batting stance close to the plate, which could also pile up some injuries at the highest level.
It’s fair to wonder whether some of his initial success was just down to being a dead-red fastball hitter. Off the fastball, Robles slashed .409/.500/.682, whereas against the changeup he slashed just .167/.231/.500, and didn’t get a hit in eight appearances that ended in a slider. While Robles certainly will have the talent to adapt to this, expect teams to come out early and attack him with off-speed pitches.
The Final Grade
Although once again he was only limited to playing time in September, Nationals fans are drooling at an outfield including at least Robles and Juan Soto for years to come. Whether that dream outfield contains Bryce Harper is a question we’ll have to wait to find out the answer.
While the sample size is admittedly quite small, there was plenty to get excited about with Robles. His performance warrants a solid grade based on the electric traits we saw, but the limited time keeps it reasonable. B+
Remember to keep an eye out for more Washington Nationals 2018 Report Cards during the upcoming weeks here at District on Deck.