Nationals center fielder Victor Robles looks like his 2019 self in weekend series

If Victor Robles becomes the player the Nationals want him to be, the beginning of that transition looks like it did last weekend.

Maybe so – but only time will tell.

Robles’ capriciousness wrecked his career start, and in Sunday’s Nationals’ series win over the Rockies, he showed the skills that made him a former top prospect — his blistering speed, even some seriousness. Missing power.

Robles, who has all five tools on the scouting list, was once considered a future star who will play next to Juan Soto for years to come. But after a stellar 2019, his offensive output has dipped over the past two seasons, in which the outfielder hit 17 homers, grabbed 28 and was voted Rookie of the Year. 6th place.

Against the Rockies, though, the 2019 version of Robles was back.

He went 7-for-16 on home runs with a home run, seven RBIs and four stolen bases as the Nationals took three of four games from the visiting Rockies — Washington’s first home series win of the season. His best game of the series — and possibly his career — came in Saturday’s doubles game, when Robles hit a personal-high six RBIs — two singles and threes Ball – Lead the Nationals to victory.

“I’m really happy for him,” manager Dave Martinez said Saturday. “I know he’s ecstatic just because he loves this team. He loves his teammates and he wants to contribute. It’s a big day for him.”

Then on Sunday, a day after grabbing a base in every doubles game, Robles used his speed to inject another win for the Nationals. He swiped two bags in the second inning and hit two singles in the game, extending his streak to four and improving his batting average to A respectable 0.257.

While stolen bases are no longer popular, they are an important part of the Robles game. He struggled in the post last year, grabbing 6 of 14 steals, but after his 4-steal weekend, he’s going 5-for-5 this season.

Robles is off to a cold start to the season — a continuation of his poor 2020 and 2021 seasons, where he hit just .209 with five homers and 34 RBIs in 159 games. He went without a hit in his first 18 at-bats this spring before hitting his first on April 17. Since then, Robles has slashed .305/0.362/0.400 with seven overbases in 110 games.

“He’s recovering from not chasing the ball and his bat swing is better,” Martinez said. “He’s been much better in the box. We’ve seen some good things from him.”

“Obviously, all the hard work paid off and I’m also very grateful to the batting coach [Darnell Coles] Never gave up on me,” Robles said. “We’ve been out there honing and working hard, and it’s starting to pay off. “

The weekend wasn’t perfect for Robles, though.

In Game 2 of the double-header, he made a costly throwing error in the third inning to help the Rockies run again in what ended up being a loss for the Nationals. Trying to get the base runner out at home, his pitch was caught by someone in the restricted area, hit the mound and bounced into the foul zone. The runners got second on a turnover and then scored in a single-double.

The error was Robles’ fourth of the season — a total that was too high for an outfielder earlier in the year, especially a player with Robles’ defensive potential.

“He had to understand who was running, what the game was like, two outs,” Martinez said. “We will continue to highlight it and hopefully he will understand and understand.”

Four innings later, Robles popped a bunt with two strikes after failing the first two attempts. Bunting has also been a problem for Robles this season, as he has failed to make sacrifices on several occasions while also choosing special moments to hit the ball.

While Robles is in his sixth season, he’s far from a veteran. He played just 13 games in 2017, 21 in 2018 and 52 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. In total, Robles appeared in 390 professional games, 40% of which occurred in 2019.

For a player like Robles, whose athleticism defines his value, Martinez said he tries to steer him in the right direction when deciding when to hit, steal or take risky plays on the floor . Soon, however, Martinez hopes to be able to let Robles go without having to regularly monitor his decision-making.

“Everybody forgets that because he’s been here for as long as Juan, these guys are really young, but they’re talented,” Martinez said. “We’re going to keep working with him, keep trying to teach him, and hopefully one day it will work out and he’ll get better.”



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