Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Tribute to Dave Roberts

When you think of lefty Jewish pitchers, Koufax and Holtzman immediately come to mind. Dave Roberts was another lefty starter who had an impact on the game of baseball. He played for 8 teams from 1969-1981. His best years were with the San Diego Padres and the Houston Astros. He was also a late addition to the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates in '79 when they won the World Series. That year as a swingman, he was 5-2 with 1 save and a 3.26 ERA in 38 innings.

His best year in The Show came in 1971, where he had a 2.10 ERA (2nd in NL behind Tom Seaver) in 269 innings for the Padres. He had 14 complete games (10th in NL). Obviously, the 14-17 record doesn't even come close to telling the whole story. Roberts finished 24th in MVP voting and 6th in Cy Young voting. His 2nd best season came 2 years later for the Astros in 1973. He was 17-11 with a 2.85 ERA (10th in NL) in 249 innings. He had 12 complete games (8th in NL); 6 of them were shutouts (2nd in NL). The following year he had a 3.40 ERA in 204 innings. Again, the 10-12 record is a bit misleading. The 8 complete games is not. Over the next 3 seasons, Roberts' ERA was 4.14 in 632 innings. His record? An undeserving 29-42. Run support he did not have. He had 16 wins in 1976 for the Tigers with a 4.00 ERA in 252 innings. In addition, he had 18 complete games (9th in AL); 4 of them were shutouts (5th in AL).

Overall, he was 103-125 with a 3.78 ERA in 2099 innings. He had 77 complete games and 20 shutouts. Also had 15 saves. Among Jewish pitchers, he ranks 3rd in career games behind Scott Radinsky and Holtzman. He's 4th in wins and strikeouts (957) behind Koufax, Holtzman, and Steve Stone. Roberts was also a very good hitter. In 531 ABs, he hit .194 with 7 HRs, 15 doubles, 4 triples, 46 RBIs, and 28 runs scored.

A few days ago, Dave Roberts died of lung cancer at the age of 64. I never knew the man myself, but seeing what he did fills me with pride.

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