Brian Roberts Elects for Surgery, Out for Remainder of Season
As I’m sure most of you have heard by now, Baltimore Orioles’ second baseman Brian Roberts has elected to undergo surgery to repair a labrum tear in his right hip that cause him to be placed on the 15-day DL at the beginning of July.
He had just returned to the lineup full-time after missing about a year at the major league level after he suffered a devouring concussion on May 16th, 2011 in Boston (Check out a video describing his suffering through the injury).
Once again, unfortunately, Roberts will not be around for a second consecutive remainder of the season. Ironically, this could be the season he has been waiting for his entire career in Baltimore.
However, the good news is that the Orioles played through his absence last season and have really made a name for themselves this year without him in the lineup, for the most part.
Last year, utility man Robert Andino stepped up and took over the starting second baseman’s position after the longtime Oriole landed on the DL. Andino returned this season on the opening day roster at second with Roberts out of the lineup still.
Andino missed the last half of July with a shoulder injury. However, he rehabbed down with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides on Sunday and should be back with the team this week, reports Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com.
Not to mention, the Orioles acquired veteran utility man Omar Quintanilla from the New York Mets to fill in for Andino while he is out. So far in 10 games with the Birds, he is batting .429 (12-for-28) with one home run, three RBI and three doubles.
Most likely, he will be moving to the full-time utility guy when Andino returns. However, if he continues to bat as well as he has since his acquisition, who knows what could happen.
So, for the time being, it seems as the Orioles are covered at the second base position. It’ll be another waiting game this offseason to see whether or not Roberts will be healthy enough to make his way into the opening day starting lineup, something he missed for the first time since 03’ this past April (04’-11’).
Is it worth it to wait on Roberts? Will he ever regain enough strength and his bat speed to compete at the major league level? Those are questions that only Dan Duquette will answer. Personally, I think we owe it to Roberts to wait on him one more time.
Fans waited over a year for him to make his return on June 12th, and subsequently, he reinjured himself less than a month later at home against the Indians on July 1st.
Roberts made it into just 17 games this season and he never found his stroke; he collected 12 base hits in 66 at-bats, a .182 batting average, which is considerably low for a career .280 hitter and who batted around the .300 mark consistently when he was healthy.
His power numbers are even worse; he failed to connect for a home run and drove in just five runs on the year. His on-base percentage was dismal at .233, while his slugging (.182) and OPS (.415) took a sharp decline.
However, as previously mentioned, Roberts missed an entire season basically and was obviously not prepare enough to return to the diamond. His most recent injury, the labrum tear, is not as severe and easier to rehab. So, depending on how the surgery goes, he should be ready in time for Spring Training.
There might be a lot of people wondering why the Orioles should even wait around on this guy after the numbers he has put over the last three seasons (in 2010, he suffered an abdominal strain and missed more than half of the season), not to mention his inability to stay healthy.
Before he was injured for the first time in 2010 stealing a base at the beginning of the season, he was one of the premier leadoff hitters in all of baseball; he was able to steal a base whenever needed, he was able to line a double in the gap and he was able to smash a home run in a tight situation.
Roberts had evolved to be one of the best players, not just leadoff hitters, in the American League.
In 2004, he became the everyday second baseman beating out Jerry Hairston Jr. after a short rivalry. He smacked 50 doubles that season, drilled four home runs, knocked in 53 RBI and hit .273 in 159 games.
That was the most games he had every played at the major league level in one season. His previous high was 112 set the year before. That year, he hit .270 with five home runs and 41 RBI.
Roberts broke out at the dish in 2005 as he delivered a career-high in home runs (18), RBI (73) and batting average (.314). Both the home run total and average are still his career-bests. He recorded more RBIs in his last full season when he drove in 79 runs (2009).
From 2005 to 2009, he smashed 65 home runs, which averages out to 13 home runs per season, from a leadoff hitter. Those are strong numbers from a guy who is supposed to be a setup guy and get on base.
Not to mention, he batted .314, .286, .290, .296 and .283 over those five seasons. He was one of the most consistent players on a couple of bad Oriole teams. In fact, he has never played on a winning Orioles team, and this might be the year they break the 14 consecutive-losing seasons streak.
Roberts was a doubles machine over that stretch as well. In fact, he set a couple of impressive records double-wise. First, he set the All-Time Orioles record for doubles in a season when he delivered 50 in 2004, breaking Cal Ripken’s mark of 49.
Plus, he broke Lance Berkman’s record for All-Time doubles by a switch-hitter in a single season when he collected 56 in 2009. Not to mention, he is just the fourth player in MLB history to notch three 50+ doubles season, adding to a list that includes Stan Musial, Tris Speaker and Paul Waner.
Yes, he evolved into a great hitter and a threat at the dish. But, he has always been a tough out on the base paths.
In 11 seasons with the Birds, he has swiped 275 bases and been caught 68 times, which averages out to an 80% steal percentage, which is extremely high. Ichiro sports an 81.3% career steal percentage.
He reached 50 steals for the first and only time in 2007, and has finished with 40, 36 and 30 in previous seasons. Over the last three years in his limited action, he’s only collected 19 stolen bases.
In last three injured-ridden seasons, Roberts has made it into just 115 games, 112 base hits in 459 at-bats (a .244 average), with just seven home runs and 39 RBI.
Obviously, he has suffered through a three tough injuries over the last three years, and the Birds have stood by him the entire way. I think they will continue to work with Roberts; he’s the type of guy who will spend his entire career with one organization.
I do not see the Orioles trading Roberts in the future, even with his injury problems. By the time Spring Training rolls around, he should be back in great shape and ready to start the season off right.
Missing the remainder of the season means a lot to him, I’m sure, especially since there’s a chance the Birds will be able to make it to the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
But, he is looking to the future and obviously, he thinks this is the better path to take. There’s no telling if he can return to his ’05-’09 form, but there’s definitely a chance and the Orioles are willing to take it.
I think the Birds should definitely hold out on Roberts for another season. He’s 34-years-old and still has a couple of good seasons left in him if he is able to make a healthy recovery following surgery.
It should be another offseason filled with wondering whether or not we’ll see Roberts come opening day.
By: Alex Van Rees
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