Summing up Victor Robles’s performance in his first full major league campaign, Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters during Washington’s run to the World Series title that the 22-year-old outfielder showed signs of improvement at the plate and out in center field over the course of the season.
“He’s definitely matured in many ways,” Martinez explained.
“First and foremost, I really believe that he has a chance to win a Gold Glove. He’s done unbelievable out in center field for us. As far as the hitting, everybody sees the raw talent that he has and I think the big key for him is — and he’s starting to learn the strike zone. And as he gets better at that you’re only going to see him improve. The biggest thing — one day I could see him hitting in the top of the order for us, so ... but he’s continuing to get better each and every day.”
Robles finished his third run in the majors with a .255/.326/.419 line, 33 doubles, 17 home runs, and 91 wRC+ in 155 games and 617 plate appearances, over which he was worth 2.5 fWAR.
He went just 9 for 45 (.220/.273/.366) during the Nats’ run to the World Series title, missing time with a hamstring injury during the NLCS, but returning in time for the Fall Classic.
“[Robles] learned a lot, man,” Martinez said at the Winter Meetings in December.
“His improvement this year was incredible — at the plate, defensively.”
Defensively, Robles led all qualified National League center fielders with 22 Defensive Runs saved on the season, and he finished the year with a .986 fielding percentage, 12 assists in the outfield, an NL-best, and six errors, three fielding and three throwing.
“Victor is going to get better and better,” Hitting Coach Kevin Long told reporters when he spoke at WinterFest in Nationals Park.
“I think he learned a lot last year, and I think his future is very bright. He held his own, and if you ask him, he’s going to tell you he can do better, and I believe he can, and I think we’ll see that. But he’s got power and the ability to drive the ball in the gaps. He’s got speed on the basepaths. He can fine-tune some things.
“I think his strike zone discipline can get better and I think he can learn from what pitchers did to him last year, and kind of make those adjustments accordingly.”
Robles was asked what areas of his game he thinks still need improvement as he prepares for his fourth season in the majors.
“I’m going to continue doing what I’ve always been doing, improve on every facet of my game,” Robles said through a translator at WinterFest.
“I need to improve a little bit on every facet, but most importantly, I think I need to focus on my hitting a little bit.”
His aim, the Nationals’ outfielder explained, is to, “try to be more patient at home.”
Robles’s biggest takeaway or what he’s learned from his 2019 campaign?
“To dominate the scenery,” Robles said. “Just relax more out there, and I think a lot of my teammates that helped give a little grain of sand for that, they all helped me a lot to enjoy and relax out there during the World Series which I think is going to help me a lot this season.”
Finishing his first full campaign in the majors with a World Series championship was a unique experience for the outfielder, and one his teammates made sure he knew it was not the norm.
“It’s definitely a blessing from the sky to be able to participate in and win this World Series,” Robles said, “... and yeah, we had a teammate, Fernando Rodney, who kept on saying, ‘It took me 17 years of playing in this league to be able to win this and you come in here in your first full season and win, that’s just not fair.”