David Ray Roberts (born May 31, 1972 in Okinawa, Japan), is a Major League Baseball outfielder for the San Francisco Giants. Previously, he played with the Cleveland Indians (1999-2001), Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-2004), Boston Red Sox (2004), and San Diego Padres (2005-2006). Roberts bats and throws left-handed. He is the son of a retired Marine (Waymon Roberts) and a Japanese mother (Eiko) and was raised in San Diego, California. He is perhaps best known for his stolen base in the 9th inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, which was such a notable play that it is often simply referred to as "The Steal."
Roberts attended Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista, California, where he was a standout in football, basketball, and baseball. In football, he was a three-year starter at quarterback; as a senior, he helped lead his team to the San Diego Section Class 3A championship.
Major League career
Roberts has above-average knowledge of the strike zone. He has little power, but is a spray hitter who can use raw speed to get on base and stretch singles to doubles. Once on base, he commonly "manufactures" runs by employing such tactics as stealing second base, moving to third on a grounder, and coming home on a sacrifice fly. When he is healthy, Roberts is widely known as one of the best base stealers in baseball. From 2002 to 2006, Roberts had 195 steals, as well as an 81 percent success rate, both of were the second-best in the majors among base stealers with 175 steals.
Roberts has exceptional range in the outfield, but his below-average arm occasionally allows opponents to take extra bases on him. According to some sports commentators, Roberts sometimes has trouble judging where the ball is going to land, and does not always run the most direct route to the ball . Roberts compensates for this difficulty with his excellent speed.
Before the 2005 season, Roberts was dealt to San Diego for veteran Jay Payton. The speedy Roberts seemed an optimal choice to roam the spacious outfield at Petco Park. He played center field for the Padres until they acquired Gold Glove winner Mike Cameron from the New York Mets before the 2006 season. Roberts then moved to left field.
In December 2006, Roberts signed with the San Francisco Giants. The Giants, trying to acquire a center fielder, first tried to sign Gary Matthews, Jr. and Juan Pierre, but both players passed on the Giants in favor of other teams. The team's attention quickly turned to Roberts who was coming off a career year with the Padres. Roberts agreed to a 3-year, $18-million deal with the team in early December 2006. By signing with the Giants, Roberts and teammate Ryan Klesko were reunited with former Padre manager Bruce Bochy who had become the Giants' new manager about a month prior. The Giants backloaded the deal, agreeing to pay Roberts $5 million in 2007 and $6.5 million in 2008 and 2009 .
Roberts' career with the Giants got off to a slow start because of injury. He spent most of May and early June on the disabled list. Roberts was batting only .216 before he went on the disabled list, but his swing had been hampered by the bone chips and spurs in his elbow that required surgery. When Roberts returned, his numbers improved, but they were not in line with his production in 2006. Some Giants announcers speculated on broadcasts that Roberts had come back too early from elbow surgery because of his desire to help the team. Roberts' production was also limited upon his return by other minor nagging injuries. His typical offensive production returned in July and August.
On September 14, 2007, Roberts became the first Giant since Barry Bonds in 1997 to reach 30 steals in a season. Roberts has stolen 79 bases with 90 percent success rate in the last two seasons. In 2007, he hit .285 against righties and .156 against lefties.
- Roberts made a number of contributions to the Red Sox' first World Series win in 86 years. The most notable was his stolen base against the Yankees in the ALCS Game 4. The Red Sox were facing elimination in the bottom of the ninth inning, down 4 runs to 3. Kevin Millar drew a walk from Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Roberts, who had not played in ten days, came in to pinch run. Rivera threw to first base three times (the last almost picked off Roberts); on the next pitch, Roberts stole second base. Bill Mueller followed with a single, Roberts scored, and the Sox went on to win in twelve innings and begin their run of eight straight wins, culminating in Boston's first World Series title since 1918. Roberts' ninth-inning steal is often referred to as "The Steal of the Century", "The Steal Heard Round the World", or simply "The Steal."
- The following night, in Game 5, Roberts ran for Millar again in the eighth inning after Millar walked. The Red Sox were again trailing 4-3 and Tom Gordon was on the mound for the Yankees. Although Roberts never stole second, his presence on first base split Gordon's attention; Gordon seemed to focus more on keeping Roberts from stealing than on pitching to Trot Nixon at the plate. Nixon singled to center and Roberts advanced to third base; he then scored the tying run on a Jason Varitek sacrifice fly. The Red Sox won the game in the 14th inning on a David Ortiz single.
- Roberts' ninth-inning steal in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS earned him a place in Red Sox history. In 2006, the event was recognized as a Memorable Moment in Red Sox history by the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame.
- On June 15, 2007, Roberts, as a San Francisco Giant, returned to Fenway Park for the first time as a player since 2004. He received a standing ovation every time he came up to bat.
- Dave Roberts Statistics - The Baseball Cube
- Fortner, Mitch. "Dave Roberts, OF, San Francisco Giants." December 17, 2006. http://www.kffl.com/article.php/62832/88.
- Schulman, Henry. "Third choice, top dollar: Giants sign Roberts for three years, $18 million." The San Francisco Chronicle. Sunday, December 3, 2006. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/12/02/SPdroberts02.DTL&hw=Dave+roberts+year+deal&sn=003&sc=639. Accessed on August 17, 2007.
- Schulman, Henry. "Roberts' return could provide spark." The San Francisco Chronicle. Monday, June 4, 2007. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/06/04/SPG5AQ6AV41.DTL&hw=Dave+Roberts+injury&sn=002&sc=834. Accessed on August 17, 2007.
- Schulman, Henry. "Fans take notice of speedster Velez." The San Francisco Chronicle. September 16, 2007. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/09/16/SPIHS6TJ2.DTL. Accessed on September 17, 2007.
- Roberts prefers to be left to play in left field
- ESPN - Pedroia, Drew combine for eight RBIs to beat Giants - MLB