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When outliers attack

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Update [2005-6-29 2:48:35 by Matthew Kizner]:I'm updating my Brian Roberts is a huge outlier article by crunching up his new numbers and seeing how my projections are looking. It's the same article, I'm leaving all the old numbers for comparions sake, with new commentary at the end after the updated numbers.

Let's take a look at a player off to an extremely surprising start so far. He's currently the ultimate outlier, but you know him as,

Brian Roberts 2B-BAL

By now, if you haven't been living under a rock, and know what a baseball is, you've heard that Brian Roberts is playing so far above his head that he may actually be playing in the stratosphere. After comparing the stats and looking at the trends, the only reasonable conclusion I can come to is that God plays fantasy baseball, and after he lost out on Chase Utley to the Archangel Gabriel, he was forced to take Brian Roberts and work a little magic.

May 2003 (DNP April) .310/.408/.548/2 Steals 2 HR, 11 RBIs
Apirl 2004 .305/.356/.421/7 steals 1 HR, 8 RBIs
Apirl 2005 .379/.459/.726 10 Steals, 8 HR, 26 RBIs

Surpring trend here as we look at his first month stats. With lines like this, you'd think we would have been hearing the Brian Roberts is the most underrated player in baseball story one or even 2 years ago. So why is this year any different?

2003 Stats
May .310/.408/.548/2 Steals 2 HR, 11 RBIs
June .276/.328/.362 7 Steals 1 HR, 6 RBIs
July .267/.359/.344 8 Steals 0 HR, 8 RBIs
August .244/.301/.325 3 Steals 2 HR, 9 RBIs
September .281/.337/.371 3 Steals 0 HR, 7 RBIs

Season
20.4 VORP (Just above Marlon Anderson (19.0 VORP) .270/.325/.376)
.097 ISO
.261 EqA (This puts him right on par with Scott Hatteberg)

2004 Stats
April .305/.356/.421/7 steals 1 HR, 8 RBIs
May .235/.318/.306/11 Steals 0 HR, 6 RBIs
June .236/.325/.321 4 Steals 1 HR, 14 RBIs
July .279/.342/.385 3 Steals 0 HR, 2 RBIs
August .346/.432/.439 1 Steals 0 HR, 10 RBIs
September .246/.296/.386 1 Steals 2 HR, 12 RBIs

Season
22.2 VORP (Ties him exactly with Miguel Cairo(.292/.336/.417)
.103 ISO
.261 EqA (Putting him on pace with Mark Grudzielanek at .263)

2005
VORP 48.1 (Still second in all of baseball behind the King of outliers, Derrek Lee.)
ISO .241 (almost 150 points lower than when I last did this)
.364 EqA (This puts him 2nd in baseball behind Derrek Lee)

I don't think anyone needs my analysis to see that Roberts traditionally hits well at the beginning of the year, but something seems different this year. His rank of second in baseball in VORP would put him in line in terms of VORP with Albert Pujols, who finished second last year behind Barry Bonds. Read that again, and look at his 2003 and 2004 comparisons, where I'm pairing him with Scott Hatteberg and Miguel Cairo, not best player in the baseball not named Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols!

So the question is, can Roberts keep it up? All signs point to no, but he's never had a month as big as his April this year. In fact, he's already bested his career homerun total (12) with the 12 he has now (I'm gonna assume by the next time I've written this, hes beaten it). already. He's only 10 away from his career RBI mark (53) with his 43 now.

However, I don't see him finishing on the pace that he's on, but if he can string that fourth straight successful month together, I don't see something like .300/35HRs/100RBIs/45SBs being out of the question, and for a second basemen, those numbers would be absolutely phenomenal, and probably put him above Soriano in terms of draft position next year, since plate patience actually means SOMETHING to Roberts, as opposed to Soriano, who would swing at a fastball thrown by a polar bear.

Of course, it's entirely possible this is just Roberts's normal hot start, and he's going to cool off as he always does, in which case I'd put him around .270/20HRs/70RBIs/30SBs, which would probably make him a top 10 pick at his position, if for no other reason than the stolen bases at a thin position.

So let's play it safe, and make a conservative prediction from both schools of thought.
.290/30HRs/80RBIs/37SBs, which probably makes him a top 5 second basemen.

Currently, Roberts is at .363/.436/.604 with 12HRs/43RBIs/16SBs. I'm thinking now the estimates need to be rehashed to around 22HRs/80RBIs/30SBs. Still good, but interesting to see how quickly the pace I had him on became unrealistic. Although, it looks now like the average isn't going to drop off.

Only time will tell, but it's going to be an uphill battle for Brian Roberts to prove that he's not a first half wonder once again. Of course, with the way the Orioles are being plagued recently, Brian could be one swing away from breaking his toe (without fouling the ball, I'm talking spontaneous break). Don't ask questions, with the rash of injuries striking the Orioles, is a broken toe that out of the question?