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September 20, 2006 12:00 am

Player Profile

0

Marc Normandin

Was Brian Roberts' 2005 a breakout season, or another Age-27 data point? Marc takes a look.

Roberts was drafted 50th overall by the Orioles in 1999; he was a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds, received as compensation for Cleveland's signing of Roberto Alomar. His college career was highly regarded, as Baseball America rated him the top defensive college player, and he was second team All-American in his final season at the University of South Carolina after hitting .353 with 12 home runs and a NCAA-leading 67 stolen bases. Roberts finished his college career ranked fifth all-time for steals.

Roberts started out as a shortstop in Single-A Delmarva, and posted a poor batting line: .240/.345/.323 was disappointing, but he did walk in 13.9 percent of all plate appearances, and managed to steal bases at a 77 percent success rate. The walks and steals added up to a .317 Secondary Average, but with an Isolated Power of only .083. His 2000 season at High-A Frederick would provide a more aesthetically pleasing batting line of .301/.403/.374, but his success rate stealing bases suffered--only 13 of 23, or 57 percent--and his power was still nonexistent.

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June 18, 2004 12:00 am

Baseball's Exciting Plays

0

Jim Baker

Baseball exists in two parallel universes. It serves two masters. It has a foot in two worlds. It straddles a fence. It balances on two horses like a rider at an old west show...and so on and so forth. On the one hand, it must entertain its paying customers and viewers. On the other, it is the prime directive of its participants to succeed. Often, these two missions are at odds (although you would never get most of the men inside the game to admit to that). While some plays are completely frustrating on a strategic level, they serve to entertain the paying customer and home viewer. These are, for the most part, the plays that have long been called into question by the analytical sector of the baseball community. Even those of us in that community cannot deny that when they occur, they can be visually dynamic and bring a jolt to the heart while they're happening. It is only afterward, when the dust has settled and the nitro pills we so desperately require have done their good work that we call into question the logic of such moves--no matter how much they may have thrilled the eye while they were underway.

On the one hand, it must entertain its paying customers and viewers. On the other, it is the prime directive of its participants to succeed. Often, these two missions are at odds (although you would never get most of the men inside the game to admit to that).

While some plays are completely frustrating on a strategic level, they serve to entertain the paying customer and home viewer. These are, for the most part, the plays that have long been called into question by the analytical sector of the baseball community. Even those of us in that community cannot deny that when they occur, they can be visually dynamic and bring a jolt to the heart while they're happening. It is only afterward, when the dust has settled and the nitro pills we so desperately require have done their good work that we call into question the logic of such moves--no matter how much they may have thrilled the eye while they were underway.

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If the shot of Ugueth Urbina tackling Ivan Rodriguez as Rodriguez holds up a baseball in triumph isn't on the front page of Sports Illustrated and every other sports publication next week, just fire all the editors. That was one of the single greatest pictures I've ever seen in sports, an amazing display of joy. Just remembering that whole sequence gives me chills as I sit here and write about it 12 hours later...the arc of the baseball looping into left field, as J.T. Snow tries to find second gear...Jeff Conine getting rid of the ball quickly...Rich Aurilia desperately waving Snow to the inside of home plate...the collision...Rodriguez tumbling back, gripping the baseball...Snow dropping his head to the plate in disappointment...Urbina diving onto his teammate... I'm not sure Rodriguez still isn't holding that baseball. He may show up with it in his hand on Tuesday. Heck, he may show up with it at his Hall of Fame induction.

However, I don't spend enough time writing about the flip side of that equation. For better or worse, the Division Series has provided a lot of exciting moments in the last nine years. Yesterday, a rare four-playoff-game day, was an example of the format at its best.

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