Positions: Second Baseman and Shortstop
Bats: Both • Throws: Right
5-9, 175lb (175cm, 79kg)
Born: October 9, 1977 (Age: 45-295d) in Durham, NC us
Draft: Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1st round (50th) of the 1999 MLB June Amateur Draft from University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC).
High School: Chapel Hill HS (Chapel Hill, NC)
Brian Michael Roberts, born on October 9, 1977, is an American former professional baseball player known for his position as a second baseman. His debut in Major League Baseball (MLB) was marked with the Baltimore Orioles in 2001, a team he was associated with until 2013. His final MLB season was spent playing for the New York Yankees in 2014.
Born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, by his parents, Mike and Nancy Roberts, Brian Roberts spent most of his formative years in Chapel Hill. At just five years old, he underwent a life-changing open-heart surgery to correct an atrial septal defect. His high school journey culminated at Chapel Hill High School.
Journey through University Baseball
Roberts attended the University of North Carolina, where he became an integral part of the North Carolina Tar Heels baseball team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) of NCAA Division I. Notably, his father, Mike Roberts, was the head coach of the Tar Heels, and Brian Roberts did not receive a scholarship offer from any other Division I baseball program.
Roberts exhibited outstanding performance during his freshman year in 1997, achieving a batting average of .427 with 102 hits, including 24 doubles, and stole 47 bases. His batting average was the second-highest in the ACC that year. Such a performance earned him recognition on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s (NCBWA) Second Team and the Collegiate Baseball Third Team.
During his sophomore year, Roberts impressed further by hitting .353, with 13 home runs, 49 RBIs, 21 doubles, and a remarkable 63 stolen bases, leading the college baseball charts that year. His contributions led to his inclusion in the NCBWA First Team, The Sporting News Second Team, and the Collegiate Baseball Second Team. He also became the fifth Tar Heel to be named ACC player of the year, and was part of the first team All-America. In 1998, Roberts took part in collegiate summer baseball for the Chatham A’s, playing in the esteemed Cape Cod Baseball League.
After the 1998 season, Mike Roberts was let go from his coaching position. Subsequently, Brian chose to transfer to the University of South Carolina, continuing his college baseball career with the South Carolina Gamecocks. As the starting shortstop, Roberts was recognized as the best defensive college player by Baseball America. Competing in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), he maintained a batting average of .353, hit 12 home runs, and accumulated 36 RBIs. With 67, he set the school and SEC record for stolen bases in a season. Once again, he was named an All-American and became a part of the All-SEC team.
Roberts was selected by the Orioles in the first round of the 1999 MLB draft, being the 50th pick overall. His first professional assignment was with the Delmarva Shorebirds of the Class A South Atlantic League in the same year, during which he played in 47 games, achieving a batting average of .240 with 21 RBIs.
In the year 2000, Roberts kicked off the season with the Gulf Coast League Orioles. He showcased promising performance, hitting .310 with one home run and three RBIs over a span of nine games. He also got a chance to play 48 games with the Frederick Keys, a team in the Class A-Advanced Carolina League. Here, he hit .301 with 16 RBIs.
The following year, 2001, saw Roberts dividing his time between the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings and the Double-A Bowie Baysox. His combined performance included a .277 batting average with two home runs and 19 RBIs in a total of 66 games.
2001 – 2005
Roberts had his first major league experience with the Orioles, making his debut on June 14, 2001, against the New York Mets. He played shortstop in this game and recorded a 1-for-4 performance. He participated in 75 games for Baltimore that season, hitting .253 with two homers and 17 RBIs.
In the subsequent 2002 season, Roberts appeared in 38 games with the Orioles, maintaining a batting average of .227 along with one home run and 11 RBIs. He also stole nine bases out of 11 attempts. In the same season, he played 78 games with Triple-A Rochester, hitting .275 with three home runs and 30 RBIs.
The 2003 season started with Roberts playing for Ottawa, where he batted .315 with 15 RBIs in 44 games. He got a promotion to the major leagues in late May due to an injury to the Orioles’ second baseman, Jerry Hairston Jr. Roberts recorded his first major league grand slam in his second game against the Anaheim Angels, winning the game in the ninth inning. He ended the season with a .270 batting average, five homers and 41 RBIs in 112 games, stealing 23 bases on 29 attempts.
In 2004, Roberts and Hairston both attended spring training with the Orioles. However, an injury to Hairston meant Roberts began the season as the starter. When Hairston recovered and returned, he was positioned in right field, leaving second base to Roberts. In August of that year, Roberts displayed impressive form, batting .346 with ten doubles in 107 at-bats. He was awarded the American League Player of the Week for his performance in the second week of August. Roberts finished the year with a .273 average, four home runs, 53 RBIs, and 175 hits in 159 games. He also recorded 50 doubles, leading the American League and coming third in the majors. These 50 doubles broke the Orioles’ single-season record and the single-season AL record for switch hitters.
Before the 2005 season began, Hairston was traded to the Chicago Cubs, leaving Roberts as the Orioles’ primary second baseman. In 2005, Roberts led the AL in batting average for the first part of the season and showed improved power. Before 2005, he had only 12 career home runs, but by late June, he had already surpassed that number. His impressive performance earned him a place in the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, his first appearance. However, as the season progressed, both Roberts and the Orioles experienced a slump.
On September 20, 2005, Roberts sustained a dislocated elbow in a game against the New York Yankees due to a collision with Bubba Crosby at first base, leading to his absence for the rest of the season.
2006 – 2009
Following his injury in 2005, Roberts made a remarkable comeback in the 2006 season. Participating in 138 matches, he recorded a .286 batting average, with 10 homers and 55 RBIs. He also scored 85 runs and stole 36 bases in 43 attempts. Seven of his home runs came in the last two months of the season. A strain in his left groin led to a brief period on the disabled list in May, but he was back in action by May 24.
In 2007, Roberts appeared in over 150 games for the Orioles, alongside teammate Nick Markakis, and landed in the top 10 for at-bats in the AL. With a .290 batting average, 12 home runs, 57 RBIs, and a .377 OBP, he earned his second All-Star selection. His 50 stolen bases, a career record, equaled the AL lead with Carl Crawford. That year, he also set personal records in hits and walks.
On June 24, 2008, in a 7–5 win over the Cubs, Roberts registered his 1,000th career hit. He reached his 250th career double on July 28 in a game against the New York Yankees. On September 21, 2008, Roberts achieved the dubious distinction of grounding into the last out in the history of Old Yankee Stadium.
On February 20, 2009, Roberts and the Orioles agreed on a four-year contract extension worth $40 million, keeping him with the team through 2013. After Boston Red Sox’s second baseman Dustin Pedroia was injured, Roberts was called up to Team USA’s roster for the World Baseball Classic. His performance in the tournament was notable, with a .438 batting average, one home run, two RBIs, and one stolen base in four games.
In a game against the Detroit Tigers on August 4, Roberts hit his 300th career double. He further broke his own Orioles franchise record on September 15 by hitting his 52nd double of the season. This achievement placed him in the elite company of Hall of Famers Tris Speaker, Paul Waner, and Stan Musial as one of the four players ever to accumulate three 50-double seasons in his career.
Roberts set a new record for switch-hitters in a season by hitting his 56th double of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 29. His 56 doubles also led the majors in 2009. On October 3, in recognition of his contributions, he was awarded the “Most Valuable Oriole” for 2009 and received an engraved lead trophy for his accomplishments.
Allegations of Steroid Use
On September 30, 2006, a report by the Los Angeles Times claimed that former relief pitcher Jason Grimsley had named Roberts as an anabolic steroids user during a federal raid on June 6, 2006. According to the Times, Roberts was one of five names redacted in a court-filed affidavit. However, on October 3, 2006, The Washington Post cited San Francisco U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan stating that the Times report had “significant inaccuracies.”
On December 20, 2007, the actual names mentioned in the Grimsley search warrant affidavit were made public. Roberts, Jay Gibbons, Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens were not named in the report, while Miguel Tejada was mentioned only in a conversation about amphetamines. Roberts, along with the other players named, dismissed the story.
Later, Roberts was named in George Mitchell’s report on performance-enhancing drugs. According to this report, Roberts, towards the end of the 2001 season, lived with then-teammate Larry Bigbie in David Segui’s house, both of whom were habitual steroid users. Although Roberts was present while they were using these drugs, he stated he did not participate. However, according to Bigbie’s testimony, Roberts had admitted to him in 2004 that he had injected himself with steroids “once or twice” in 2003.
On December 17, 2007, Roberts admitted to a one-time use of steroids in a statement, “In 2003, when I took one shot of steroids,” he said, “I immediately realized that this was not what I stood for or anything that I wanted to continue doing. I never used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing drugs prior to or since that single incident.”
He added, “I can honestly say before God, myself, my family, and all of my fans, that steroids or any performance-enhancing drugs have never had any effect on what I have worked so hard to accomplish in the game of baseball.”
Roberts also mentioned that he held no grudge against Larry Bigbie, whose testimony to the Mitchell Committee led to his inclusion in the report.