With Brian Roberts set to start his rehab assignment today, it raises the question of how the Baltimore Orioles should handle him upon his return. Based on the numbers, a healthy Roberts should play over Robert Andino everyday.
Roberts was seen as one of the premier leadoff men in all of baseball prior to the past two seasons, which he has missed due to concussion symptoms, but now he appears close to returning.
Many Orioles fans believe that even if Roberts is able to return to the Orioles, Andino should continue to play everyday at second base. But if one looks past his final at-bat of last season and a few good weeks to start this season, it is clear Andino is more suited for a utility role than as a major league regular.
If Roberts can actually prove that he has recovered from his injuries, he should take over for Andino.
One thing Andino fans seem to ignore is that he simply isn't a very good hitter.
His career OBP is low at .303, his slugging percentage is low at .336, and as a result his OPS is terrible at .639.
Roberts career OBP is .353, his slugging percentage is .416, and his OPS is .769. In short, that means Roberts is far and away a better hitter than Andino.
Some fans may try and say that Andino's career numbers are low, but that he turned a corner last season and is now a productive major league hitter.
That simply isn't true. Andino had an OPS of .670 last season and despite his steaming start, has an OPS of .668 this season.
The league OPS is .722 so far this season and it pretty much stays around the .720 mark year in and year out. Even in his best season Andino had an OPS well below the league average. Only once did Roberts post an OPS below .720 and it was his first full season in the league.
Roberts should play over Andino because Andino simply isn't a good hitter.
Right now the Orioles are lacking speed in their lineup. They are last in the big leagues in stolen bases and get caught about as much as they are called safe.
Roberts could help boost the Baltimore offense in that regard. B-Rob has stolen more than 20 bags during each of his full seasons in the majors and once lead the league with 50 stolen bases in 2007.
Andino on the other hand doesn't steal often and has been caught both times he has tried to steal this season. He has 19 steals in over 350 games played in his career.
Roberts could add a whole new dynamic to offense that is producing despite a lack of speed throughout the lineup.
The only way one could justify keeping Andino in the lineup over Roberts would be Andino's defense being significantly better than Roberts', but that also isn't the case.
Both players defensive WAR is pretty much even. Year in and year out they are somewhere around zero, either slightly above or slightly below a 0.0 dWAR.
Andino is a good defensive player, but not significantly better than Roberts.
When Andino came to the Orioles, Roberts was the face of the franchise and Andino hasn't forgotten.
"I know when Brian gets back, he’s just going to make this team much better, so I ain’t worried about it. I’m here to win, so whatever my role is when he comes back, I’m all for it,” said Andino.
From the sound of that, it seems Andino is aware of the kind of player Roberts is when healthy and is ready to step back into his role as a valuable utility guy ready to play all over the field at the drop of a hat.
I like Andino and I love that he is on the Orioles, but to think a healthy Roberts shouldn't play over Andino is just silly.