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Be wary of drafting Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts was perhaps the biggest story of the first half last season, hitting .345 with 15 homers, 49 RBI and 18 steals before the All-Star game. The wheels didn't completely fall off in the second half, but he certainly reverted to his previous career norms, hitting just .274 with three homers, 24 RBI and nine steals the rest of the way.

As if that drop-off wasn't enough of a red flag, don't forget that he's also coming back from September elbow surgery, having one ligament completely replaced and a torn tendon repaired. His recovery should have him ready close to the start of the season, but apparently it's not yet set in stone that he'll be ready for Opening Day. From the Washington Post:

"We haven't really sat down and mapped out a plan yet," Roberts said. "I'll have to sit down with the trainers and Sammy [Manager Sam Perlozzo], and we'll just kind of go from there. As soon as I'm ready, we'll get out there and try to get some idea, but at this point, we're just going to continue to gradually progress and see where that takes us."

Roberts said his rehabilitation has progressed quickly since he tore tendons and ligaments in his left elbow in a collision with New York Yankees outfielder Bubba Crosby on Sept. 20 and underwent surgery Sept. 30. In the past couple weeks, Roberts said he has begun to gain more strength in the elbow and began taking swings with a bat for the first time all offseason. Perlozzo said Roberts will hit soft toss Tuesday and likely also start to field ground balls.

"I don't have a goal really yet. It could be 40 [at-bats] -- whatever it takes to get ready to play," Roberts said. "My ultimate goal is still to play Opening Day. That's what I'd like to do. Still, we don't know for sure what it's going to be, at this point."

Yikes -- all of this sounds a little too uncertain for my tastes.

Look, he never showed any home-run power before last season, and he's admittedly struggling with his strength right now. Combine that with the fact that his draft day value will likely be a little inflated by fellow owners still dreaming about his out-of-the-blue first half, and you have a recipe for a player who's all but guaranteed to fall short of draft-day expectations.

I think his upside this year is .295-8-65 with 25 steals, but I'm betting he'll finish a lot closer to .270-6-50 with 20 swipes. Anyone else want to take a stab at his projection?

Roberts Aims for Opener [Washington Post]