Monday, January 23, 2012

Looking Back: Jerry Hairston, Jr. vs. Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts is, to me anyway, the epitome of Orioles baseball.  Every year, I go into the season thinking B-Rob will firmly plant himself in the class of the 2B elite with guys like Kinsler, Cano and Utley.  However each year I'm left wanting more, feeling let down, and a little more disillusioned.  It was 7 years ago that the O's made the decision that would send two careers in opposite directions.

Click on the images for links to their respective Fangraphs pages.

Jerry Hairston Jr. was the de facto starting 2B for the Orioles for the 2004 season.  However, he had been platooned more often with each passing year with up and coming prospect Brian Roberts.  Roberts jumped into the starting role due to, ironically, an injury to Hairston.  Upon Hairston's return, Roberts had 'locked-up' the 2B job and Hairston was shuffled into RF to keep the younger Roberts in the lineup.  This was the beginning of the end for Hairston in Baltimore.

Prior to the 2005 season Hairston was sent, along with a few prospects, to the Cubs for Sammy Sosa.  While Sosa's time in Baltimore was forgettable, it's the careers of Roberts and Hairston that are interesting here.  Hairston has played for 10 teams since then, hitting just .255 over that time.  He has however, proved to be durable even through last year, his 14th in the majors.

Roberts on the other hand has hit .289 since being named Baltimore's franchise 2B, accumulating 1200 more ABs than Hairston in that time.  The difference however, is that Roberts has been injury prone the past few years.  Roberts' injuries include herniated discs, abdonimal strains and of course the concussion he struggles with today.  O's fans are still hopeful, but Roberts isn't likely to contribute significantly any time soon as he is still recovering from concussion symptoms.

At the end of the day though, the O's made the best decision at the time, and it isn't even close.  Hairston has accumulated 8.1 fWAR since 2005, with Roberts nearly matching that in 2005 alone.  Over the same time Roberts has posted 25 fWAR and been the face of the franchise.

I hope B-Rob gets back on the field and plays like his old self this season.  If not though, the O's and I still have no regrets.  Brian Roberts is modern Oriole baseball, in more ways than one.


  1. i hope roberts comes back I love that guy, but who knows right?

  2. what was the point of this article

  3. Tucker, I agree. I would love to see the Roberts of a few years ago.

    And the point of this article was to look back and assess the decision the O's made in choosing Roberts over Hairston, JR. It wasn't as cut and dry as this in 2004 when the O's had to choose.