Roberts captures doubles record
Veteran disappointed mark comes while O's struggle
ST. PETERSBURG -- It may be a Major League record, but it came without pomp and circumstance. Brian Roberts broke Lance Berkman's record for the most doubles by a switch-hitter in a season on Tuesday night, and he said after the Orioles' 3-1 loss to the Rays that he'd rather set a personal best when his team is having more success.
"It seems kind of silly to talk about personal things at this point," said Roberts. "I guess it's pretty much the same things I've said over and over again. When I'm sitting down after the year is over and you can kind of reflect back on the season, personally, team-wise and everything, maybe it will mean a little something. It's certainly a blessing and humbling to be put in the category of all those great switch-hitters that have played the game."
Roberts, who had dealt with questions about his historic approach for weeks before Tuesday's hit, set history on a routine double. The speedster nailed a shot to the left-center-field gap and easily cruised into second base. Roberts, the second-longest tenured Orioles player, came around to score Baltimore's only run later in the inning.
Roberts also set some doubles-related history earlier in the season, when he became just the fourth player all-time to record three 50-double seasons. The other three -- Stan Musial, Tris Speaker and Paul Waner -- are Hall of Famers. Roberts, who tied Berkman's record last week, took his achievement in stride.
Roberts, Baltimore's leadoff hitter, already holds the top three doubles marks in franchise history. The 31-year-old has an outside chance to be the first big league player in more than 70 years to hit 60 doubles. The last player -- Charlie Gehringer in 1936 -- also set the all-time record (60) for second baseman, giving Roberts another target.
Just two players in the past 50 years -- Todd Helton and Carlos Delgado in 2000 -- have gotten within three doubles of 60, setting the bar high for Roberts. Helton actually got to 59 doubles, falling one short in a season in which he also had 42 home runs. Delgado, who got to 57 two-baggers that year, also hit 41 homers.
Roberts, one of Baltimore's most consistent players, hit 29 doubles in 344 at-bats before the All-Star break and has hit 28 more in his first 267 at-bats after the intermission. The switch-hitter consistently has handled his success with self deprecation, and he underlined that in early September when he logged his 50th double.
"Any time you're in the company of three Hall of Famers -- and you're the only one who's not a very good player -- that's kind of cool," he said. "I never would've expected any positive category to be in the same category as three Hall of Famers. I don't want to downplay it to the point where you don't respect the guys that have done it before you. That's for sure, because those are obviously incredible guys that have played the game."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.