September 16, 2009

Yes...THAT Brian Roberts

Lost in the Derek Jeter "is" (check out what Hal Bodley had to say) or "isn't" (read the rebuttal to Bodley's piece by Michael Schur) American League Most Valuable Player debates that have hit the interwebs since he surpassed Lou Gehrig's Yankee hit record were two other significant hitting milestones.

First...Ichiro Suzuki added to his Hall of Fame credentials by putting together his record setting ninth straight season with 200 or more hits Sunday night. Fittingly, it was an infield single (a slow roller to Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus) that broke the Ichiro free of Willie Keeler's 108 year-old record of eight straight.

"We witnessed something that has never been done in the history of baseball," marveled four-time All-Star Mike Sweeney following the game. "That was a special night for all of us, and especially Ichiro. I'm elated for him. We're all elated for him."

And just how good is nine straight seasons with 200 or more hits? Consider this...hit kings Ty Cobb and Pete Rose never did it in more than three consecutive seasons. Both played 24 seasons in the bigs and for their careers, Cobb had nine season where he hit the benchmark...Rose had ten.

Ichiro is nine for nine.

Also lost in the shuffle was Brian Roberts of the Orioles and I know what you're thinking...yes, THAT Brian Roberts.

You see last week against the Red Sox, Roberts launched a double to deep left off of starter Paul Byrd. And no, the fact that he leap frogged Hall of Famer Earle Combs on the all-time doubles list in the process has nothing to do with the achievement.

You see, with that hit (double number 50 for Roberts this season), the second baseman became only the fourth player in Major League history to have three seasons with more than 50 doubles.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that Roberts is the same caliber as the other three on the list (Hall of Famers Tris Speaker, Paul Waner and Stan Musial), but I'll tell you this...regardless who you root for, being on that short list is pretty impressive.

"I'm guessing that will be the only thing in my career that I'll ever be in that sort of company for," Roberts said following the game. "I respect the game and I like the history of the game, and to be in that company is something I'll be proud of when I'm done."

Speaker hit 50 doubles in a season five times during his career, while Waner and Musial did it three times each.

Also, with 51 doubles last season, Roberts recorded his second straight 50 double season. The other two that did it...Hall of Famer Billy Herman and his future plaquemate Craig Biggio.

So there you have it, gang, a Thursday morning post that features five Hall of Famers, three future Hall of Famers, Pete Rose and Brian Roberts.

Yes...THAT Brian Roberts.


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