Recently, Orioles 101 has received both positive and negative feedback with the potential of a 100% healthy return of Brian Roberts to the Baltimore Orioles line-up in 2013. Of all the questions we get from readers and followers, the question of whether or not Roberts should still be the starting second baseman if healthy has been one of the more reoccurring questions posed.
Today, we look to settle this debate as we will break down the numbers and other underlying factors surrounding Roberts and second base for the Orioles.
First we have to look at who Roberts would be competing against at second base as earlier this week we posted an article on who should start at second base if Brian is not healthy. Second base can be considered a very crowded position leading into spring training as in addition to Roberts and the three guys below, Orioles101's number three ranked Orioles prospect, Jonathan Schoop will also be in camp (while he is not playing in the World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands).
- Ryan Flaherty – Last season was Flaherty's first in the big leagues and got 77 games under his belt. He hit .216 with six homers, 19 RBI and a .258 OBP.
- Alexi Casilla – Casilla has played at least nine games in the big leagues in each of the last seven years and has amassed 515 career games in the Majors. Casilla has a career average of .250 with 11 homers, 147 RBI, 71 stolen bases and a .305 OBP.
- Yamaico Navarro – Navarro has played in the big leagues with three different teams, but has only gotten 71 career games under his belt. He has a career average of .191 with two homers, 18 RBI and a .244 OBP.
When these three are compared to Roberts' career numbers, there is no contest. Roberts is a career .280 hitter with 84 homers, 482 RBI, 275 stolen bases, and a .351 OBP. In this debate however, I am not looking at Roberts' entire career because let's face it, he is nowhere near the player he used to be and to think a 35 year old Roberts is going to produce the way he did earlier in his career is blasphemy and unfair to Brian. Thus let's take this debate to the last three seasons in which Brian has been injury plagued and didn't play more than 59 games in either of the past three seasons and this year will be doing the same things he had to do in those previous years, come back from injury.
In the past three seasons, Roberts has played a total of 115 games and in those games had an batting average of .244 with 21 doubles, seven homers, 39 RBI, 19 stolen bases, 43 walks, and a .308 OBP. In addition to his batting statistics, Roberts also compiled a .986 fielding percentage in those 115 games.
Hopefully seeing those numbers brings you to the same conclusion that we have, and that is is Brian Roberts is healthy, there is no question that Roberts should be the starting second baseman over any of the other guys in the running. Other than just the numbers, Brian obviously brings with him the ability to steal bases and he is a switch hitter which will be big for this line-up. Of course, the biggest question will be if he can actually stay healthy, but if he does he is and should be the starting second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles in 2013.
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