Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Friday, August 03, 2007

Roberson: Can He Run? 

With Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino taking brief stints on the D.L., the Phillies have recalled Chris Roberson to Philadelphia to fill in as the Phillies fourth outfielder. Roberson, some of you might recall, played briefly with the Phillies in 2006 and seemed a lock to make the team as their fifth outfielder and primary pinch-runner in 2007. Much to my surprise, the team chose to send Michael Bourn to Philadelphia and relegated Roberson to life as the Ottawa Lynx centerfielder. This had to be an extremely frustrating development to Roberson, who was selected by the Phillies in the ninth round of the 2001 Draft, who had been clawing his way through the minors and was developmentally one step ahead of Bourn:

Chris Roberson / Michael Bourn
2004: Clearwater (A+) / Lakewood (A)
2005: Reading (AA) / Reading (AA)
2006: Scranton (AAA) / Reading (AA)
2007: Ottawa (AAA) / Philadelphia (MLB)

Bourn promptly stunned Phillies fans with his abilities on the base-paths, stealing 18 bases in 19 tries to go along with three triples.

I’m still in awe of his performance against the San Francisco Giants earlier this season, which bears repeating: inserted to run for Pat Burrell after Burrell drew a walk, Bourn promptly stole second base, stole third base, and then scored when Wes Helms grounded weakly into a fielder’s choice. In a more just world Helms wouldn’t be credited with the RBI because it was only thanks to Bourn’s tremendous speed that a run was scored.

With Aaron Rowand likely to depart for free agency in the off-season, Bourn is a near-lock to be the team’s new centerfielder and lead-off hitter in 2008. Bourn’s future looks bright, while Roberson seems to be a career minor-leaguer.

Does Roberson have much of a future with the Phillies? Surprisingly, I think he might. First, let’s talk about Roberson’s talents and why he’s hung around with the Phillies as long as he has:

Roberson has spent pretty much the entire 2007 season as the Ottawa Lynx centerfielder. He hit .266 (.311 OBP), with 21 doubles, 3 triples, and 4 home runs. Roberson attempted 25 steals and was successful 16 times (64%). In 2006, when he was the Scranton Red Barons (the Phillies old Triple-A affiliate) centerfielder, Roberson hit .292 (.349 OBP) with 14 doubles, 2 triples, and 1 home run. Roberson also stole 25 bases in 34 attempts (74%).
Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
On-Base Percentage (OBP): How often a player gets on base. (H + BB + HBP) / (Plate Appearances)
Slugging Percentage (SLG): Total Bases / At-Bats = Slugging Percentage. Power at the plate.

I think that Roberson has some speed to give to the team and that he'll fill in rather well for Bourn while he's on the D.L. The key is going to be getting on base and giving the Phillies opportunities to win. Roberson's .311 OBP is too low for a leadoff hitter. He's going to have to do better than that to justify the Phillies keeping him around.
Defensively, they seem like they are both very talented outfielders.

I'm interested to see how Roberson does and see if he can use this opportunity to bring himself to Philadelphia to be the Phillies fifth outfielder in 2008. My money says that Roberson's speed will win him that opportunity next season, particularly with the significant role that Davey Lopes and the Gospel of Speed are likely to have in the team's thinking for 2008.
Have a nice weekend!

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