Kramer Robertson is loved.
Kramer Robertson is despised.
“He’s a very polarizing guy,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said about his star shortstop.
The reason people adore him is very much the same reason others can’t stand him. Playing a game that prefers a period at the end of the sentence, Robertson is the exclamation point.
It might be the long rock star hair. It might be the passionate antics. But for all the style, flash and panache, there’s most definitely substance to his game that drives people to love and hate Robertson, too.
“If you don’t love Kramer, you’re probably on the other extreme of the scale,” Mainieri said. “He’s probably the most popular player in college baseball — one way or the other, everybody knows who he is.”
At least they know the version of him they see on the field. Which makes it all that much stranger to encounter him away from it.
When there is no competition to be won, Robertson is almost comically understated, at least when comparing him to his on-field persona. He’s composed and measured, almost quiet.
Robertson is smart enough to recognize this about himself.
“I think I have two completely different personalities on and off the field,” Robertson said. “Off the field, I’m a jokester. I’m pretty relaxed. I think that’ll be surprising to some of the freshmen when they see me at game time.”
He says it all stems from his competitiveness, and he doesn’t shy away from using polarizing language to describe it.
“I hate to lose,” Robertson said. “There’s no worse feeling for me than losing.”
Two sentences later: “I love playing the game, I love winning, so I get real excited during those moments.”
And there is one more important clarification Robertson wanted to make: All of this emotion is genuine.
“I could see where some things that he does might grate on people that don’t know him,” Mainieri said. “When you know him, and you know how legitimate it all is, and how much he cares about the right things — about his team and about his school — it doesn’t bother you a bit, you’re glad you’ve got him.
“But I can see where the opposing teams, and they see him and he’s got the flow —“
The flow, in this instance, is describing Robertson’s long, flowing hair.
“— and he’s got the cleats. But anybody who questions that kid’s courage has a fight with me.”
Robertson’s antics are a bit of a lightning rod. Junior left fielder Beau Jordan is a two-year starter who has played a lot of baseball, and therefore has answered plenty of questions from media and fans alike.
When asked about Robertson’s emotional outbursts on the playing field — specifically about the edge that could bring to LSU — he rolled his eyes.
“I always get that question,” Jordan said.
Jordan said he thought it was because of how an emotional player like Robertson can stick out on a baseball field, where the so-called “unwritten rules” can stamp out some of that behavior. He’s glad that hasn’t happened with his teammate though.
“I love it,” Jordan said. “I love showing emotion, I love getting hyped. You’ve got to get to know him. He doesn’t mean to offend people, it’s just part of his game.”
What might be most important is that Robertson’s outbursts tend to happen after big, positive moments for LSU — often moments Robertson played a direct part in delivering.
For his double play partner, Cole Freeman, it’s not the emotion that gets him going after one of those big plays, but the play itself.
“It’s more him stepping up in the situation,” Freeman said. “That’s as big as anything. If he were to get a clutch hit and get on first base and not say a word, I think it would do the same thing.”
Just don’t expect to see a subdued Robertson on the field after a big play, standing there with an inscrutable face silently enjoying the inoffensiveness of a nice golf clap.
Love him or hate him, that’s not who he is.
“It might rub some people the wrong way, the way I play the game,” Robertson said. “My swagger can sometimes rub people the wrong way. But I don’t care. I’m going to play the only way I know how, and that’s with fire and passion.
“Sometimes people think I show too much emotion, but that’s me, that’s Kramer Robertson. People love me for it, people hate me for it.”