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Brian Roberts and the art of the two-bagger

Sep 10, 2009, 12:37 PM EDT

Last night Brian Roberts smacked his 50th double of the year, joining Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Tris Speaker, and Paul Waner as the only players in baseball history with 50-plus doubles in at least three seasons.
Of course, while most fans can cite the significant homer records few people pay much attention to doubles. As a quick primer, here are the career, active, and single-season doubles leaders:

CAREER                     ACTIVE                     SINGLE SEASON
Tris Speaker      792      Ivan Rodriguez    546      Earl Webb         67
Pete Rose         746      Manny Ramirez     527      George Burns      64
Stan Musial       725      Ken Griffey Jr.   518      Joe Medwick       64
Ty Cobb           724      Garret Anderson   511      Hank Greenberg    63
Craig Biggio      668      Todd Helton       506      Paul Waner        62



Roberts is 31 years old and has averaged an impressive 45 doubles per 162 games during his career, leading the league in two-baggers twice and ranking second two other times. However, he’s not particularly close to being among the all-time doubles greats. He ranks just 352nd on the all-time list with 312 career doubles, tied with the immortal trio of Doug DeCinces, Kent Hrbek, and Stuffy McInnis.
Even looking at the doubles leaders through the age of 31, Roberts ranks just 87th, although this time he’s tied with some guy named Babe Ruth. Roberts has been on a torrid doubles pace over the past half-dozen years, with annual totals of 50, 45, 34, 42, 51, and now 50, but he didn’t land an everyday job in the majors until the age of 25 and didn’t have his first big doubles total until 26.
All of which makes it tough to pile up historically great totals, but since Roberts became a regular for the Orioles in 2002 he leads baseball with 294 doubles, followed by Albert Pujols at 292. And despite his relatively late start Roberts is one of just 15 players to have five or more seasons with 40-plus doubles through the age of 31. The only guys with more than five such seasons by his age? Musial, Joe Medwick, and Lou Gehrig with seven and Wade Boggs and Joe Cronin with six.

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