Washington Nationals: Victor Robles Turning A Corner?

Victor Robles #16 of the Washington Nationals reacts after striking out looking to end the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on May 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Victor Robles #16 of the Washington Nationals reacts after striking out looking to end the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on May 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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With his hands raised at the plate, Robles went 8-12 against the San Francisco Giants.

When Victor Robles started the season 0-18, many believed it was the end of an era in D.C. Once seen as a cornerstone of the Washington Nationals alongside Juan Soto, Robles had been unable to build upon his successful 2019 rookie campaign.

That year he hit .255, with 17 homers, 65 RBIs, and an OPS of .745, but it was his defense that stood out the most. Mainly patrolling center, he posted 25 DRS, 12 outfield assists, and a 7.0 UZR. But over the last two seasons, Robles has lost any semblance of his rookie form, even finding himself demoted back to AAA.

GM and President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo and Manager Dave Martinez both reiterated their faith in Robles to start the year, but he was clearly running out of chances. New hitting coach Darnell Coles worked with him throughout Spring Training — emphasizing Robles raize his hands at the plate.

Andrew Golden of The Washington Post touched on Robles’s tweaks to his swing last week stating,

"In 2019, Robles’s hands were near his head when he began his swing, but as recently as last year they dropped lower, near his shoulder. He would rest the bat on his shoulder at times, shaking it back and forth before moving his hands up toward his head. Since working with Coles, Robles has moved his hands back up and created a quicker path to the baseball.Coles implemented two other tweaks that he believes could make a difference: Robles is putting his foot down earlier and opening up his stance."

To start this season the results weren’t coming, with Robles going an aforementioned 0-18, but since then he’s 15-40. In the Nationals’ recent weekend series win against the Giants, he went 8-12 with five RBIs and two walks.

Arguably his best series since 2019, Robles fortune at the plate was finally turning. For the past two years, he could never catch a break. He would chase pitch after pitch out of the zone and whenever he would finally make contact, it would be hit right at someone.

This past weekend, he had an advanced eye at the plate. Be it bunting for a hit or beating the shift, Robles was almost impossible to get out. Neither of the Giants’ three starters Alex Wood, Logan Webb, nor Alex Cobb was able to keep him in check.

Most notably, in the Sunday finale, he worked an eight-pitch walk in the first inning to load the bases. Cobb threw two splitters in a row that in the past Robles had been unable to lay off, but this time he watched for balls — showing his growing maturity as a hitter.

On the season, he’s hitting .259, with five doubles, nine RBIs, and an OPS of .662. He still needs to rediscover his power, having yet to hit a homer this year and it is still unclear if Robles has truly turned a corner. With the Nationals heading to Colorado where the ball loves to fly for a three-game series, Robles will have the perfect opportunity to showcase his recent tweaks and prove he’s all the way back.

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