Because there are so many numbers in baseball, it’s very easy to use them for evidence to support any side of any argument. For instance, did you know that with two-time All-Star Brian Roberts in the lineup the Orioles are 25-23 this season and without him they are 45-38?
Did you know that during Roberts 17 games played last season the Orioles went 7-10 while finishing 86-59 in the remaining 145 games played? Honestly, I didn’t either.
On Wednesday night Roberts walked to lead off the top of third, then stole second base. With Manny Machado at the dish, Roberts attempted to steal third, but was thrown out by Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Machado would hit a solo homer on the next pitch and the Orioles would go on to lose their eighth straight one-run game.
It’s so easy to second guess Roberts’ decision. Machado leads the league in doubles, Roberts would easily score if Manny hits a two-bagger. But who knows what could have happened if he stayed at second base?
The healthy Roberts appears to be the O’s best choice for second base, however Baseball Reference’s wins above replacement likes Ryan Flaherty better for the position. Roberts is a -0.2 WAR player, while Flaherty posts a 0.6 WAR.
Is it possible that the Orioles are a better team with Brian Roberts out of the lineup? These numbers suggest it, but his .467/.500/.633 slash in 41 plate appearances with runners in scoring position say otherwise.
You can make the numbers say whatever you want them say.