When I think about the Carter Kieboom situation, I feel like how a politician is perceived. Man, I flip flop something fierce. An ardent supporter of Kieboom throughout his offensive tribulations, I finally jumped off the bandwagon after his horrific hitting display during spring training, though found myself again pulling for Carter after his Triple-A Opening Day performance.
Now, I am wondering why Kieboom was kicked to the curb and Nationals outfielder Victor Robles is getting such a long leash.
Victor Robles needs to produce, or the Nationals need to replace him.
Back in 2018, Robles was the number one prospect in the Nationals system (Kieboom was ranked right behind him). A September callup allowed the Nationals to get a look at Robles against Major League pitching, and he passed the first test. He hit .288 with three home runs in 59 at-bats. With the inconsistent play of Michael A. Taylor, the Nationals were set going into the 2019 season with Robles as their starting center fielder.
As the Nationals made a World Series run, Robles became a special part of the voyage. Offensively, he provided decent production for a batter at the bottom of the lineup. With 17 ding-dongs, 65 runs batted in, and 35 stolen bases, the Nationals were sure Robles would develop even more after a stellar rookie season.
The best part, on defense Robles accounted for 25 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and made several highlight catches in center field.
Then the development stalled. A bulked up Robles hit .220 in 2020 with limited power. His defense fell off as his DRS was -4.
Here we are, in 2021, and Robles is struggling mightily. He has failed in the leadoff spot. He has struggled on the base paths. He’s hitting .154 with runners in scoring position and has just one RBI on the season.
Where Carter Kieboom was jettisoned to the minor leagues, why does Victor Robles continue to play everyday? There is a veteran waiting in the wings to replace Kieboom, in Starlin Castro. Robles has freedom, as there is no one knocking at the door behind him. Not Andrew Stevenson. Not Yadiel Hernandez. Not anyone in the minor leagues.
Robles established himself in the 2019 season, leading the Nationals to believe he could hold his own against big league pitching. The Nationals can’t afford to run Robles out there as long as they did Michael A. Taylor, before finally moving away from him.
While he does serve a purpose and should have a roster spot, I’m starting to wonder why Victor Robles is getting the backing Carter Kieboom did not.