Sox rookie, 22, stands strong chance of big ca­reer

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - JOHN GROCHOWSKI Twit­ter: @Gro­chowskiJ

Ahot start is just a hot start, and putting ‘‘Luis Robert’’ and ‘‘Hall of Fame’’ in the same sen­tence is as pre­ma­ture as Eloy Jimenez’s spring com­par­isons of Robert to Mike Trout.

But hold­ing a reg­u­lar big-league job as a 22-year-old rookie is a big step, re­gard­less of Robert’s .351/ .385/.595 slash line through Sun­day. The play­ers with the best ca­reers tend to reach the ma­jors early.

Twenty-one play­ers have ca­reer non-pitcher bWARs of 100 or more. That in­cludes Babe Ruth’s 162.1 as a po­si­tion player but not his 20.4 as a pitcher. Only one of the 21 was older than 22 to start his ca­reer: Honus Wag­ner, who was 23.

Teenagers make up a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share of the group. Nine in the 100 WAR club were 19 or younger in their de­buts, with Mel Ott the youngest at 17.

Play­ers in the ma­jors that young have shown their games al­ready are good enough to be there, and they can build from there.

Also, the youngest play­ers are build­ing to­tals when older rook­ies are pol­ish­ing their games. Trout, whose 73.0 bWAR is fourth-high­est through age 28 in ma­jor-league his­tory, de­buted at 19 and had 19.9 bWAR be­fore en­ter­ing his age-22 sea­son.

The Stat­head tool at Base­bal­lRef­er­ shows 783 non­pitch­ers who reached the ma­jors at 19 or younger (base­ball ages start at mid­night June 30). Fifty-two — 6.6 per­cent — have made the Hall of Fame.

The per­cent­age of Hall of Famers de­creases as de­but age in­creases. The num­bers are 44 Hall of Famers among 951 play­ers (4.6 per­cent) at 20, then 50 of 1,691 (3 per­cent) at 21, 34 of 2,347 (1.4 per­cent) at 22, 23 of 2,691 (0.9 per­cent) at 23 and nine of 2,730 (0.3 per­cent) at 24 be­fore a slight uptick to 12 of 2,188 (0.5 per­cent) at 25.

Only six play­ers of 4,522 (0.1 per­cent) have been en­shrined af­ter de­but­ing at 26 or later. Those in­clude spe­cial cases Roy Cam­panella (27) and Jackie Robin­son (28), who should have been in the ma­jors much younger but for the color line.

There are stars, jour­ney­men and washouts at any age, but those with the big­gest chances at the best ca­reers are those in the ma­jors at the youngest ages.

Even in a 60-game sea­son, it’s not out of the ques­tion Robert will con­tend for the best sea­son by a White Sox player mak­ing his bigleague de­but at 22. The leader is Frank Thomas, who just hap­pens to have played in 60 games for the Sox in 1990.

Thomas had 240 plate ap­pear­ances and 191 at-bats, slash­ing .330/.454/.529 with seven home runs and 31 RBI. That was worth 2.3 bWAR. The next-high­est by a Sox player with an age-22 de­but was 2.1 by Gordon Beck­ham in 430 plate ap­pear­ances in 2009.

There’s work to be done, but a 60-game start in Thomas’ class would be a ma­jor feather in Robert’s cap. Then again, time is on his side.

Mar­lins CEO Derek Jeter on Mon­day blamed the team’s coro­n­avirus out­break that has paused their sea­son since July 26 on a col­lec­tive false sense of se­cu­rity that made play­ers lax about so­cial dis­tanc­ing and wear­ing masks.

Twenty-one mem­bers of the team’s trav­el­ing party were in­fected, in­clud­ing at least 18 play­ers. Jeter said that none is se­ri­ously ill and that he ex­pects all to re­turn this sea­son.

‘‘Guys were around each other, they got re­laxed and they let their guard down,’’ Jeter said. ‘‘They were get­ting to­gether in groups. They weren’t wear­ing masks as much as they should have. They weren’t so­cial dis­tanc­ing.’’

Jeter said his play­ers were an­noyed by spec­u­la­tion reck­less mis­be­hav­ior was to blame.

‘‘Our guys were not run­ning all around town,’’ he said. ‘‘We did have a cou­ple of in­di­vid­u­als leave the ho­tel [in At­lanta, where the Mar­lins played two ex­hi­bi­tion games be­fore the reg­u­lar sea­son be­gan]. We had guys leave to get cof­fee, to get clothes. A guy left to have din­ner at a team­mate’s house. There was no sala­cious ac­tiv­ity. There was no hang­ing out at bars, no clubs, no run­ning around At­lanta.’’

Fran­cona out with in­testi­nal is­sue

In­di­ans man­ager Terry Fran­cona missed his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game and will miss at least another Tues­day be­cause of a gas­troin­testi­nal is­sue that has both­ered him for months.

Fran­cona didn’t feel well be­fore the In­di­ans’ game Sun­day against the Twins in Min­neapo­lis and left the ball­park to re­turn to the team ho­tel. While the In­di­ans went on to Cincin­nati

for their two-game se­ries against the Reds, Fran­cona re­turned to Cleve­land to be checked by doc­tors.

The In­di­ans said he was suf­fer­ing from the same is­sue that caused him to miss a cou­ple of spring-train­ing games in March. They said Fran­cona’s ail­ment isn’t re­lated to COVID-19.

Braves lose Soroka for sea­son

Braves right-han­der Mike Soroka will miss the rest of the sea­son af­ter suf­fer­ing a torn right Achilles ten­don while leav­ing the mound to cover first base on a grounder in the third in­ning against the Mets.

Soroka fell to the grass on his first step off the mound and yelled in pain. He got up and tried to take a cou­ple of steps be­fore drop­ping to his knees and be­ing helped off the field by man­ager Brian Snitker and a trainer.

Oh­tani won’t throw for 4 to 6 weeks

An MRI exam re­vealed An­gels two-way star Sho­hei Oh­tani has a strain in his right fore­arm near the el­bow that will pre­vent him from throw­ing for at least four to six weeks, pos­si­bly end­ing his sea­son as a pitcher af­ter only two walk-plagued starts.

Judge’s HR streak over, but Yanks win

Aaron Judge’s streak of hit­ting at least one home run in five con­sec­u­tive games came to an end, but Ger­rit Cole (3-0) al­lowed one run in six in­nings and the Yan­kees ex­tended their win­ning streak to seven with a 6-3 vic­tory against the vis­it­ing Phillies.



Mar­lins CEO Derek Jeter (in­set) said he blames the team’s coro­n­avirus out­break on the play­ers’ lax at­ti­tude about so­cial dis­tanc­ing and wear­ing masks.

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