ROBERT IN GOOD COMPANY
Sox rookie, 22, stands strong chance of big career
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 BaseballReference.com 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.