Tag: Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts: Don’t Blame the Player, Blame the (Business) Game

Late last night, news broke from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that longtime Baltimore Orioles second baseman and fan-favorite Brian Roberts was “likely” to sign a deal with the New York Yankees.

This morning, his colleague Jon Paul Morosi reported the agreement: a one-year, $2 million deal.

Orioles fans, Brian Roberts will be wearing pinstripes in 2014. That’s the reality of the situation, and I know it’s quite upsetting for most of you, including myself.

But before we all jump down Roberts’ throat and refer to him as a “traitor,” let’s take a minute to analyze this situation.

The Yankees are a team that almost always finds a way into the playoffs, and Roberts has yet to appear in a playoff game in his entire career as he was injured during the playoff run the O’s had in 2012. The Yankees also offered him guaranteed money with the chance to earn more, as his $2 million deal includes incentives. They offered him playing time, as they have a vacancy at second base now that Robinson Cano is gone, while on the flip side, the O’s have about 700 second-base candidates competing for the starting job.

But more than anything, the Yankees offered Roberts interest, something the O’s failed to do at all this offseason.

I’m not going to get into whether resigning B-Rob would have been good or bad for the team, because it’s no longer about that as that’s not even a possibility anymore. I’ve seen enough bashing of Roberts by Orioles fans on Twitter to get my blood boiling. Many fans blame him for his departure to such a hated rival, calling him a “traitor” (at least Baltimore fans know how to spell), but that simply isn’t an accurate assessment of the situation.

Up until last week’s winter meetings, there had been no signs that the O’s reached out to their former longest-tenured franchise piece, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Kubatko stated that since O’s Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette was focused on adding starting pitching, a closer and a left fielder, he had “basically put second baseman Brian Roberts on the backburner.”

Steve Melewski of MASN Sports reported last week that the O’s don’t have a deal in place with Roberts, but that manager Buck Showalter would like to see him return to the club. In that same piece, Melewski has Duquette quoted as saying:

“Well, we’ve been working this week mostly on looking for a left-handed hitter and a DH and we’ve also been trying to add to our pitching staff, so that is something we can get to later on.”

“We are still open to (re-signing Roberts). Let’s see how out team shapes up and we’ll address that at an appropriate time.”

And Kubatko wrote today that the O’s had apparently reached out to Roberts’ agent last week, which is actually surprising news to me. The team didn’t sense that Roberts was prepared to sign anywhere quickly.

Seems like that’s how the O’s have felt about every free agent available this winter.

In this day and age, $2 million plus incentives is nothing in the baseball world. The Orioles were worried that Roberts would demand something more like $8 million on a one-year deal. So if they really wanted him back, they could have easily afforded him, as could any club in the MLB.

Evidently, the front office didn’t want him back badly enough. Or Kubatko is correct in saying that Duquette and Co. simply didn’t think Roberts would sign that quickly, in which case that would be unacceptable. If you’re a team’s general manager and you want to sign a player, you go out and pursue that player. Maybe Duquette was in fact focused on thinking about possibly offering potential deals to players to try to fill other holes on the roster.

To those fans who wanted B-Rob back in the orange and black, this is a slap in the face to you. The team did absolutely nothing to retain him, and the longest-tenured Oriole deserves better than one phone call to gauge his interest in returning. During the offseason, every deal and every hole to fill is a priority, not just the ones that a front office feels like focusing on at any given time.

Orioles fans, don’t blame B-Rob for his departure. The man is seemingly healthy for the first time in four years after having strung together 75 injury-free games during the second half of the 2013 season, and as he has yet to appear in a postseason game, the Yankees are a logical destination to make that dream a reality. The market for a 36-year-old injury-plagued second baseman can’t be too big, and when that’s what you are and you’re given a chance to play every day on an assumed contender, you snatch up that opportunity.

Especially when your former longtime employer hasn’t so much as asked you how much money you’re looking for this offseason, and the offseason is over a month-and-a-half old.

Instead, O’s fans, remember Roberts for being a bright spot during 14 years of losing, and for signing an extension and sticking with a losing team prior to the 2010 season. Obviously, Roberts didn’t truly earn said deal, but the commitment he had to the franchise as well as the commitment to the Baltimore community through all the charity work he does showed his deep passion for Baltimore and for the Orioles franchise.

If the O’s had offered the exact same deal to Roberts the Yankees did, Roberts likely would have stayed in Baltimore. Had the O’s offered almost any deal whatsoever to Roberts, he likely would have stayed. But the team didn’t, and they failed in that regard.

This one is entirely on the O’s front office. They didn’t do their job. Their failure to even negotiate with a fan favorite adds insult to an already frustrating offseason completely lacking developments, serious acquisitions and forward progress within the roster.

It’s time to start paying attention to the offseason, Duquette. It did start, a while ago. This is about more than losing Roberts, this is about losing nearly every target you’ve had this offseason.

You’re running a major league team. Act like it.

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Can the Yankees Catch Lightning in a Bottle with Brian Roberts in 2014?

Losing Robinson Cano was a big blow to the New York Yankees, not only because he is a great player, but because finding a quality second baseman on the open market is not easy. 

The Yankees signed Kelly Johnson to a one-year, $3 million deal earlier this offseason, and he was an option at second. However, he may actually wind up at third base, where an Alex Rodriguez suspension would leave a major void once again.

With Omar Infante and Mark Ellis signing with the Royals and Cardinals, respectively, last week, the best option left on the market at the position was 36-year-old Brian Roberts. Therefore, the Yankees pulled the trigger on signing the injury-plagued veteran on Tuesday morning.

According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the two sides have come to terms on a one-year, $2 million deal that includes incentives:

A fan favorite in Baltimore who was once among the best second basemen in baseball, Roberts has dealt with a myriad injuries the past few seasons and has not played more than 77 games in a season since 2009.

Here is a look at his injury history, according to his Baseball Prospectus page, since the start of the 2010 season:

The Orioles selected Roberts out of the University of South Carolina with the No. 50 overall pick in the 1999 draft, and he made his big league debut two years later.

By 2003, he had stepped into an everyday role. From 2003-09, his combined 28.1 rWAR (Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference) trailed only Chase Utley among all second basemen.

He made a pair of All-Star teams and finished 18th in the AL MVP voting during a fantastic 2005 season.

The question now is, just how much does Roberts have left in the tank? Can he stay healthy enough for the Yankees to actually rely on him as their primary second baseman this coming season?

He managed to stay in the lineup over the final three months of 2013, appearing in 73 games from the start of July through the end of the regular season.

Over that span, he hit .239/.307/.386 with 11 doubles and eight home runs in 251 at-bats. While Roberts’ average is obviously not where you want it to be, those are decent power numbers for a second baseman, and he did draw some walks to post a respectable OBP given his average.

The absolute best-case scenario would be Roberts staying healthy enough to give the Yankees 500-plus at-bats this coming season. If that were to happen, and with a full spring training under his belt to prepare, he could put up 30 doubles, 15 home runs and 65 RBI with a .260/.330/.400 line.

That said, more than 500 at-bats is asking a lot. 

If Roberts can play just 100 games and give the Yankees 400 at-bats while posting something like a .250/.320/.375 line with 15 doubles, eight home runs and 50 RBI, he’d be worth every penny of his $2 million contract, plus whatever incentives he collects.

By comparison, light-hitting utility man Nick Punto will get $2.75 million from the A’s next season. Meanwhile, the Yankees handed out $2 million for all-glove, no-bat infielder Brendan Ryan.

Roberts is not going to be the All-Star player he once was. And the Yankees will no doubt need to turn to the likes of Ryan and Johnson at some point during the season, as Roberts will likely miss time.

However, the deal makes perfect sense for the Yankees and is undoubtedly one of the better low-risk, high-reward contracts to be handed out so far this offseason.

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Brian Roberts and New York Yankees Reportedly Agree on 1-Year Contract

The New York Yankees have reportedly reached an agreement with veteran second baseman Brian Roberts on a one-year, $2 million deal as a part of their ongoing effort to fill the void left by Robinson Cano. 

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports passed along word of the free-agent signing:

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman later confirmed:

Having Cano at second base was a major advantage for the Yankees over the past nine years. They are quickly finding out that replacing him isn’t easy, especially at a position where offense comes at a premium.

General manager Brian Cashman admitted he would have done the same as Cano and headed for the Seattle Mariners if $240 million was on the table, Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger reported.

Thus he explained Tuesday he understood why Robinson Cano left for the Mariners, and made “the right decision” to reject the Yankees’ overtures.

“It just comes down to, if the numbers are right, he had 240 million reasons why he should go to Seattle,” Cashman said. “And if I was him, I would have done the same thing.”

At least for now, it appears they will use a committee approach to replace Cano at second base. Roberts will join Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez in the mix for playing time.

The 36-year-old infielder spent his entire 13-year career with the division-rival Baltimore Orioles. As Rob Carlin of CSN Washington points out, seeing him join the Yankees will probably be tough for Orioles fans despite his lack of production in recent years.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports reaction from within the Orioles organization:

Roberts has dealt with a long list of injury issues that have limited him to fewer than 80 games in each season since 2009 (abdominal strain, concussion, hip surgery, hamstring surgery). Before that point, he was a very good offensive second baseman with career highs of 18 home runs and 50 stolen bases.

ESPN’s Buster Olney provides further perspective surrounding Roberts’ health concerns:

In a perfect world, the Yankees would see him return to that level during the one-year deal. In reality, they would be happy if he’s simply able to stay healthy and provide some consistency at a position where they’ve been the most consistent team in baseball for nearly a decade thanks to Cano.

It’s highly unlikely Roberts will ever return to pre-2010 form, but it’s a low-risk move for New York that could pay off in 2014 if he comes anywhere close.


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Baltimore Orioles: Injured Birds Who Will Make the Team Even Stronger

The Baltimore Orioles‘ fantastic start to the season is even more surprising when one considers the injuries they have had, but with several key players set to return sooner rather than later the Orioles could improve on their already impressive record.

A few players the Orioles were counting on to have big seasons have yet to even suit up for Baltimore this summer. Other key contributors started the season healthy but ran into problems early.

It doesn’t really matter when they got hurt but one thing is clear, the O’s are winning without them so who knows how good they can be with them.

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Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter Has Birds Playing the Oriole Way

The Baltimore Orioles are off to a 4-0 start for the first time since their wire-to-wire AL East winning season of 1997. This is cause for excitement, O’s fans, and while many say it is too early to conjure up thoughts of the playoffs I say go ahead, think postseason baseball.

If you have watched all four games then you know it is not Orioles magic that is getting it done but the old Oriole Way. In case you forgot what the Oriole way is, it is playing baseball by emphasizing the fundamentals.

When playing the Oriole way, you play good defense, you pitch to your strengths and while you may not have more talent than the team sitting on the other bench, you out work and out hustle them.

You run the bases aggressively and with intelligence while never taking yourself out of an inning because you missed a sign or a base coaches’ instructions.

You also have to depend on timely hitting and make the opposing pitcher work for every strike he gets.

The Orioles perfect start is not a fluke. It is not a byproduct of playing teams that are not as good as the Orioles. The O’s are 4-0 because they have been playing a brand of baseball we have not seen since the late 80’s

Even in the late 90’s when the O’s last made the playoffs, they were made up of high-priced free agents and aging stars.

If you remember, the Oriole Way always began with good pitching and defense first. The last team I remember playing the Oriole Way and making it exciting for the fans was the 1989 “Why Not” team.

Three of the four starters to take the mound so far this year have received victories. The one starter who did not get a W, Chris Tillman, left after pitching six innings of hit-less baseball and arguably pitched the best game of the four starters so far.

Baltimore’s starters have pitched 26 innings and have only allowed two runs. They have walked nine, struck out 20 and have a staff ERA of 0.75. The staff is averaging just 4.22 hits per nine innings to start and each, other than Tillman, has shown a knack for working their way out of trouble. 

Aside from great starting pitching, the bullpen has held their own. While not as good as the starters, Baltimore’s relievers have tossed 10 innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits.

Defense has always been a part of the Oriole way and good defense has been a factor to start this season. The O’s have committed just one error in 169 chances to begin the season and have made a few highlight-reel plays.

Yesterday Felix Pie made a running catch that required him to run a good 50 yards, saving a double or possibly a triple. Nick Markakis’s game saving catch on Saturday night was a play I have seen on highlight shows every night since he made the catch.

The Orioles are solid with speed in the outfield and they have a good hard-nosed, smart bunch of ballplayers on the dirt in the infield.

While the Orioles are not knocking the cover off the ball like the Texas Rangers, they are using timely hitting to win games. They are also running the bases a lot smarter than I have seen in recent years.

The O’s are taking extra bases making their runs stick. Yesterday JJ Hardy took second base after he lined a shot into left field. Brian Roberts hit a three-run home run rendering the aggressive and smart base running unnecessary but it was the kind of play we have not seen consistently in many years at Camden Yards.

Hardy has already hit three doubles and scored four runs from the nine hole and speaking of Brian Roberts, with a pair of three-run dingers this season, he leads the leagues with eight RBI. Nick Markakis seems very comfortable in the No. 2 slot. Markakis is batting .429 to start the season and has been making pitchers work for every strike they throw him.

Keep in mind the heart of the order has yet to produce. Free agents Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds are batting a combined .178 and if you throw Adam Jones into the mix, that drops to a .164 through four games.

It is a long season and these guys will hit just as Roberts, Markakis and Hardy will cool but it is a good sign to be undefeated without your power hitters smacking the ball out of the park.

Baltimore has already matched their longest winning streak from all of last season and if they can win tomorrow night will have matched their longest winning streak in the last two seasons. They will also equal the start of the 1970 Orioles, who went on to win the World Series that year.

I am not saying the Orioles are going to the World Series but remember O’s fans this is not something new. This is an extension of what began last season when Buck Showalter took over 106 games into the 2010 season.

Showalter’s team has yet to trail in four games this season and since he took over last season the O’s are an American League best 38-23.

It was fitting the Orioles honored Earl Weaver yesterday. Current O’s skipper Buck Showalter elected to catch yesterday’s honorary first pitch from legendary O’s skipper Earl Weaver. Showalter then proceeded to watch his team beat the Tigers just as Weaver’s teams used to beat many opponents.

Yesterday and through the first four games, Showalter’s boys have pitched well, played solid defense, run the bases well and let us not forget the O’s (Brian Roberts) have a couple of Weaver’s all-time favorite play, the three-run home run.

Through the last 57 games of the 2010 season and through the first four games this season, Showalter has the O’s executing just like Earl used to have his boys of summer playing.

The Orioles way was a brand of baseball that made Baltimore, not the New York Yankees, the winningest franchise from the mid 60’s through the mid 90’s.

Remember a few years ago when baseball experts said the Tampa Rays could never do it, they could never hold on and win the AL East. This team is capable of winning 90-plus games playing this way.

You get the sense that the Orioles play to win the inning and that is how you win games.

So yes fans, it is OK to get excited about the playoffs because if Buck Showalter can continue to get this team to play the Oriole way, then October will return to Camden Yards.

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Baltimore Orioles: It May Be Too Early to Print Those Playoff Tickets, But…

Man, has it been sweet to be a Baltimore Orioles fan these past four days.

I grew out a goatee in honor of the O’s facial hair policy being changed for the start of the season, and now, I’m afraid to shave it off tomorrow like I originally planned on doing.

They’ve been on such a roll, I can’t recall a time when I had more fun rooting for this team, save the last two months of the 2010 season.

I love this. Tomorrow’s off day is going to kill me.

I just hope it doesn’t kill the O’s momentum.

But hey, if five months didn’t, then a day shouldn’t, either.

The team’s ERA is 1.00 over the last four games. 1.00! I mean, I know it won’t last all season, and maybe not past Wednesday, but it’s pretty awesome to say.

We, as Orioles fans, couldn’t have asked for a better start to this season, even with Brian Matusz hitting the DL (can’t wait for him to begin his year), Luke Scott as day-to-day with a right groin strain, and now Jeremy Guthrie missing his second start of the season, which was slated for Wednesday, with pneumonia.

Justin Duchscherer hitting the DL at the season’s start doesn’t count, because we all saw that coming. If he returns to be a solid starter or reliever, however, that would be a great addition to the team.

How about Zach Britton? One earned run over six innings in his major-league debut on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, with six strikeouts. He didn’t appear to be nervous at all, even though he was called up to make an emergency start with Matusz going on the DL.

Even though he was facing the reigning AL East champs at home.

Even though he was trying to close out a sweep for his team, so that they could begin the year 3-0, the first time doing so since 1997.

Anybody remember the significance of the ’97 season? I’m sure every O’s fan does, and for those of you reading who aren’t O’s fans, that was the last season that the Birds turned in a winning record.

Gets you kind of excited, doesn’t it?

I know, I know, we’re only four games into the season. There’s still 158 left. 1,422 innings, if there are no extra inning games. That’s plenty of time to screw up. Believe me, I know. But momentum is a powerful thing, as well as team morale, especially in the marathon of a season that is the MLB.

Chris Tillman threw six no-hit innings on Saturday, despite not having his “A-game” and being pretty wild.

Things have just been going right for these birds. Like how even though the two biggest names that had been brought in over the offseason, Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, have been slumping some to start the season, the rest of the order has picked up the slack. Nick Markakis is hitting over .400 early on, J.J. Hardy has been a force in the nine hole, Mark Reynolds has done his part early on, and Brian Roberts is the team leader in RBI with eight, as well as being the only hitter on the team with a long ball, having hit two three-run shots in three days, both times to give his team the lead during a tie game.

God, please help keep Roberts healthy through this season and the rest of his career.

Jason Berken has struck out six batters in three innings of relief, tied for the team lead with Guthrie and Britton.

Hopefully, it doesn’t end. Hopefully, our beloved O’s make a legitimate run at a playoff spot. Hell, I think it’s safe to say that most, if not all of us, would be happy to see this team finish with at least a .500 record.

Granted, it’s a stretch, but it’s possible. Anything is possible in this game.

When was the last time we were alone atop the AL East? My best guess is back in the beginning of the 2009 season, when we got off to an 8-2 start, if my memory serves me.

It may not last, so enjoy it while it does. And get behind this team because I truly believe they can do some special things this season.


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Carlos Beltran and 10 MLB Players Who May Never Rebound from Injury Issues

Every baseball season, there are injuries around the league.  Some are so bad that a few can never rebound and make the same impact as they did before—i.e. Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets, who has now been forced to change positions due to injury.

Depending on the situation, whether it’s Tommy John surgery, a shoulder operation, elbow tendinitis or a broken foot, baseball is a very tough sport to recover in.  This can be due to the fact that “Americas pastime,” puts a high demand on muscles that aren’t used in everyday life. 

Not to mention that those muscles and ligaments are used in an unusual fashion.

The throwing motion, for one, is a prime example of overuse of certain shoulder and arm muscles.

With constant force on the knee joints, whether it be getting in a fielding position or moving side to side, the ligaments eventually began to fall apart like tread on a tire. 

Baseball players bodies’ are like tires.  They can ride great when they’re fresh and new, however, once they start to wear down from the overuse, bad things can happen.

Now that the steroid era has come and gone—at least it looks that way—more superstars are coming up with injuries.  Why? Because of the constant grind on their rubber-like bodies.

A few players may never be the same again this season.  

So who are they?

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Baltimore Orioles Predictions: The Resurgence of Brian Roberts

Pitchers and catchers have just recently reported to Sarasota, Fla., for the start of the Orioles‘ 2011 Spring Training.

With a busy offseason by Orioles general manger Andy MacPhail, for the first time since 2004, a sense of excitement has returned to Baltimore this spring.

With the Orioles’ first Spring Training game just weeks away and Opening Day within sight, it is time for some bold predictions for the upcoming 2011 Baltimore Orioles.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will focus on almost every potential member of Baltimore’s 25-man roster.


Leading Off

1.  Brian Roberts, 2B

It is almost hard to believe that 10 years ago, Brian Roberts, a small shortstop from North Carolina, emerged to become Baltimore’s future second baseman and longest tenured Oriole in the organization.

During his 10 years with the Orioles, Roberts has never experienced the playoffs, let alone a winning season.

With the start of the 2011 on the horizon, Roberts will be more valuable to Baltimore’s lineup more than ever. Last year did not get off to how the second baseman had hoped.

Roberts re-injured his back, which kept him sidelined for almost the entire Spring Training, and he did not return to the Orioles until late July.

Baltimore tried countless experiments to fill their leadoff void that had been secured for the past eight years for the Orioles, yet none were able to pan out. After returning from the DL, Roberts hit .278/.354/.391.  

Roberts helped anchor the front side of the lineup outside of Nick Markakis and Luke Scott, was unable to produce consistently.

Roberts, along with new manager Buck Showalter and a refocused starting rotation, was a key factor in the Orioles turning around the second half for Baltimore.

The second baseman has stated that he is finally healthy and is ready to help lead the Orioles in 2011, according to Dan Connelly of The Baltimore Sun.

Although Baltimore’s recent offseason moves have made the Orioles better than last season, the fate of the 2011 Orioles will lie upon their leadoff hitter.

Roberts not only brings with him a good glove at second, but he is also one of the better doubles hitters in the league.

Roberts has twice led the league in doubles (2004 with 50 and 2009 with 56) and a healthy Roberts will set up more RBI opportunities for Nick Markakis.

If Roberts is able to stay healthy in 2011, there is no reason to doubt more runs from the revamped Orioles lineup.

Prediction: .279 AVG, 13 HR, 48 doubles, 28 SB

On Deck: Nick Markakis

In the Hole: Derrek Lee

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Watch Out: Baltimore’s Nick Markakis Is Due For Bounce Back Season

Baltimore Orioles’ right fielder Nick Markakis has become the face of the franchise in Charm City. He was the first of the team’s “young guns” to make it to the big leagues back in 2006, and after a fantastic rookie season and even better sophomore campaign, he put up solid number in ’08 and ’09, only to regress considerably in 2010.

The regression, however, was more than likely not his fault.

Last year, the right fielder put up a batting average of .297, which is very solid anyway you look at it, and consistent with what he has done throughout the rest of his career. His OBP was .370, a great number. But he only hit 12 bombs and drove in a measly 60 runs, while generally being the No. 3 bat in the lineup.

I’m telling you, it wasn’t his fault.

Consider, if you will, who was batting in front of him much of the season—Julio Lugo, Corey Patterson and occasionally, Cesar Izturis. Second baseman Brian Roberts appeared in only 59 games last season, and being the Orioles’ leadoff man for the past six or eight years, it’s fairly obvious he’s something special atop the lineup.

Without Roberts getting on base in front of Markakis, the right fielder had no one to drive in almost every at-bat. And when someone in front of Markakis did manage to get on, they usually didn’t get extra bases, making it hard for Markakis to drive them in with the pitches he was being thrown.

Which takes us to the next part of the equation: How he was being pitched to.

Imagine, you’re a major league pitcher going up against the 2010 Baltimore Orioles. The middle of their lineup consisted of Markakis, Ty Wigginton, Luke Scott and Adam Jones. Who would you like to avoid out of the four of them? If you said Markakis, then your line of thinking is exactly what almost every other pitcher had last season.

Markakis was easily the most talented hitter in the Orioles’ lineup last year and is probably still in the top three-headed going into the 2011 season with the O’s revamped lineup. But last year, he had virtually no protection and pitchers gave him a healthy serving of fastballs down and away the whole season. How can one pull a fastball down and away over the right field wall? The opposing pitchers could afford to do this because if they hit the strike zone, great, but if they walked him, there were easier guys to get out hitting behind him.

Although he did hit 45 doubles last year (his fourth season in a row with 40+ doubles), he was limited to a lot of singles due to those outside pitches. Even though his batting average with runners in scoring position was somewhere in the .330 range, it was hard for him to drive in a guy from second when all he could do with what he was being pitched was to slap it to left field for a single.

This season, expect all that to change.

A healthy Roberts will do wonders for this team’s run scoring potential, and though that is no guarantee, so far this offseason the O’s offensive catalyst has proclaimed he is as healthy as ever. If the most important hitter in the O’s lineup can stay on the field, he will give the rest of the guys plenty of opportunities to drive in some runs.

As far as the rest of the guys, Markakis has some new lineup protections and it’s pretty stacked. Markakis will be pushed up to the second hole in the batting order, where he has historically hit better at anyway, due to the talent the Orioles have brought in to fill out the order. First baseman Derrek Lee will most likely be hitting third, and after having an injured, down year last season (a down year in which he still drove in 80 men), his thumb is all healed and he’s ready to show he’s still a big hitter on his one-year deal.

After Lee, DH Vladimir Guerrero will probably be hitting fourth, and we all know what Vlad is capable of. The next three bats will most likely be left fielder Luke Scott, third baseman Mark Reynolds and center fielder Adam Jones. Scott and Reynold could be flipped depending on how the opposing pitching matchup looks. How’s that for lineup protection?

With less pressure and better pitches to hit, I expect Markakis’ numbers to go back up to at least what he did in 2009, when he had a line of .293/18/101. For a No. 2 hitter, that is phenomenal, but he is capable of so much more.

All O’s fans should hope for Markakis to return to form, but at the same time, they shouldn’t be to worried about him. He’s a great talent with an awesome bunch of guys hitting behind him, so he should see his share of fastballs inside that he can yank onto Eutaw Street out over the big scoreboard in right. But even if he can’t drive in runs like he used to, he’ll still be a great contributor to the team, hitting around .300 with 40+ doubles and working plenty of walks, all while playing Gold Glove caliber defense.

Anyway you cut it, he’s a valuable player to the team. Expect him to return to the value he had shown prior to this past baseball season.

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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Top 3 Value Picks at Second Base For Your Draft

The purpose of Value Picks is to point out some names that have not been getting the attention they deserve on draft day. The focus of this article will be finding value at a thin position, second base.


1. Dan UgglaCurrently ranked No. 34 by Yahoo Fantasy Baseball

Last Season’s Statistics:

Average Runs HR RBI SB
.287 100 33 105 4

Very impressive stat line for Uggla last year which left him at No. 18 in Yahoo’s 2010 rankings. In addition to his finish last year, he has now moved into the Braves lineup where he should thrive. Plan on a finish closer to last year’s 18 than the 34 Yahoo has tagged him with this season.


2. Kelly JohnsonCurrently ranked No. 98 by Yahoo Fantasy Baseball

Last Season’s Statistics:

Average Runs HR RBI SB
.284 93 26 71 13

I think Johnson is getting a raw deal even from Yahoo. When it comes down to it, fantasy is all about offense. And the stats Johnson put up last year were very solid, especially for second base. The fact that he has his defensive liabilities, while soon to frustrate Diamondback fans on a regular basis, have not impact from a fantasy perspective as long as he keeps his job.


3. Brian RobertsCurrently ranked No. 104 by Yahoo Fantasy Baseball

Last Season’s Statistics:

Average Runs HR RBI SB
.278 28 4 15 12

Admittedly, those stats are probably deserving of a much lower ranking. However, Roberts was injured much of last season and only played in 59 games. Coming into this season healthy and with an upgraded lineup around him, it’s not unreasonable to expect a stat line more along the lines of his 2009 season:

Average Runs HR RBI SB
.283 110 16 79 30

Those numbers were strong enough to find him ranked as the 47th best player in Yahoo. Not bad for a player you will likely be able to grab as late as the 10th round of your draft.

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