Orioles Undervaluing Brian Roberts

Posted on August 26, 2013

By Stan "The Fan" Charles
Let's get real and raw here. After all the stops and starts of Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts' career circa 2010-2012, the fact that I am writing a column about the topic of Roberts possibly being undervalued is astounding. Let's not get maudlin here. Writing something positive about B-Rob has not moved me to tears.

Yet since June 30, the first game Roberts played for the Orioles since suffering a hamstring injury April 4, he has been fit and able to go to the post for a period of nearly two months, and that is something even the biggest optimist among us would have scoffed at with a glass-half-empty point of view.

Roberts, whose combined statistics from 2010-12 were 115 games played, 459 at bats and 39 RBIs, has -- knock on wood -- played in 47 games with 152 at bats and knocked in a respectable 28 runs in 2013.

No longer does he run as fast and no longer does he dive headfirst into anything that requires some extra haste or effort. Most assuredly, the Roberts who has four times during his career plated more than 45 doubles no longer exists. Also gone is the Roberts who tallied eight consecutive seasons of double-digit stolen bases, including one of 50, one of 40 and five others when he stole in excess of 20 bases.

But he still has a resilient batting eye and an ability to put the ball in play. A .257 batting average isn't what Roberts used to be about, seeing as he is a lifetime .279 hitter, despite woeful averages the past two seasons.

My point is this: In a lineup that has struggled to maintain a lofty number of runs scored, Roberts' .320 on-base percentage and low strikeout numbers perhaps could be put to better use.

I once suggested to then-manager Dave Trembley that Roberts should bat higher in the order, to coax him into being a bona fide run producer. I thought current skipper Buck Showalter used great vision in having Roberts bat eighth and ninth from the beginning of the season until now. There was no reason to heap on added pressure to a year of renewal for the Orioles' popular second baseman.

But that was then, and this is now. Showalter needs to improve his vision and get his most productive batters better bunched. It says here that a move of Roberts up to No. 2, with Manny Machado slotted in a more traditional run-producing spot, might really help this lineup.

Perhaps Showalter will think throwing Machado into a more pressurized spot at this time during his first full season would be the wrong move. If so, put Roberts at No. 5 or 6 in the order.

What has been an eye opener for this observer is that Roberts can still be a productive hitter, and, with the lack of consistent production and power from catcher Matt Wieters and right fielder Nick Markakis, it's time for Showalter to get creative in order for his lineup to become more productive.

A larger dose of B-Rob in the O's lineup could be just what the doctor ordered.

Posted Aug. 26, 2013

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