Rating the Greatest Baseball Players of All Time

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Sunday, September 07, 2003
 
Number 65: Robin Roberts

Roberts made the majors at age 21 with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1948, posting a 7-9 record with a 3.19 ERA. The Phillies were coming out of a decades-long doldrums about then, and the minor league system was spitting out talent: Roberts, Richie Ashburn, Granny Hamner, Del Ennis. They put them together in 1950 to form the Whiz Kids, a fuzzy-cheeked bunch that took the NL pennant. Roberts went 20-11 with a 3.02 ERA that year. He continued to be that good, but the team couldn't manage any more pennants with the Giants and Dodgers rolling through the 1950s. It was too bad, because Roberts was the best pitcher in the NL for most of the decade. Unfortunately, the Cy Young Award was invented about the time Roberts began to decline.

Roberts threw very hard, with excellent control. He gave up a lot of fly balls (which made Ashburn a handy guy to have around) and quite a few home runs. Most of them came with no one on base because he hardly ever walked anyone. Roberts led the league in wins four straight years, 1952-55. He never led the league in ERA but he was frequently among the leaders. He was 2nd in MVP voting in 1952, when he won 28 games. Roberts began to falter in 1956, and was 1-10 in 1961, then was sold to the Yankees, released, then signed by the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles were building an exciting young team of their own, and Roberts became a veteran leader there. He found his fastball again and pitched well for three years, including the exciting pennant race of 1964, where he narrowly missed another World Series chance. It wasn't to come, and he bounced to the Astros and the Cubs before retiring after the 1966 season.

Roberts earned 183.91 ratings points.

Roberts' stats: 286-245 record, 3.41 ERA, 2357 strikeouts, 45 shutouts, 305 CG.