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David Arthur Roberts (September 11 1944 – January 9 2009) was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for eight teams from 1969 to 1981. He was second in the National League (NL) with a 2.10 earned run average (ERA) in 1971 for the San Diego Padres, after which he was traded to the Houston Astros, where he spent the four most productive years of his career. Over his major league career he won 103 games.
Born in Gallipolis, Ohio, Roberts changed organizations 11 times in his pro baseball career. "The way I look at it," he said, "either I'm a bum or everybody wants me."
He was one of the best Jewish pitchers in major league history, ranking third in career games (445) behind only Scott Radinsky and Ken Holtzman, fourth in wins (103) and strikeouts (957) behind only Sandy Koufax, Holtzman, and Steve Stone, and seventh in ERA (3.78).
Minor league careerEdit
Roberts was approached by 14 teams after graduating from high school before being signed in June 1963 as an undrafted amateur free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies because they reportedly wanted to have a player of Jewish faith in the organization to attract the Jewish fan base.
He played as a farmhand for the Phillies, Kansas City A's and Pittsburgh Pirates (who claimed him on waivers in April 1964), before being taken by San Diego with the 39th pick in the 1968 Major League Baseball expansion draft.
Major league careerEdit
After debuting with the Padres in 1969, Roberts was sixth in the NL in walks per 9 innings (2.13) in 1970. He went 14-17 for the last-place 1971 Padres, finishing second to the New York Mets' Tom Seaver with a 2.10 ERA. He was sixth in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award, seventh in walks per 9 innings (2.04), ninth in innings pitched (269.7), tenth in complete games (14), and 24th in the voting for the NL MVP Award. He held batters to a .191 batting average when runners were in scoring position.
In December 1971 he was traded by the Padres to the Houston Astros for Mark Schaeffer, Bill Greif, and Derrel Thomas. His being traded by the Padres was just prior to the Padres signing another Dave Roberts (see below), who joined the club in 1972. If this trade had not occurred, the Padres roster would have featured two unrelated players named "Dave Roberts", making this among the few occasions where a team's roster featured two unrelated players with the same name.
In 1972 he was 12-7 for the Astros. In 1973, he recorded a career-best 17-11 record, setting a club record with a career-high 6 shutouts (second in the NL). He was sixth in the NL in wins and sacrifice hits (12), seventh in games started (36), eighth in complete games (12), and tenth in ERA (2.85) and walks per 9 innings (2.24).
After a 16-17 season with the 1976 Tigers, in which he was fifth in the American League (AL) in shutouts (4), seventh in games started (36) and ninth in complete games (18), he had surgery to correct an arthritic knee.
In July 1977 he was purchased by the Chicago Cubs.
In February 1979 he signed as free agent with the San Francisco Giants.
1979: Giants and PiratesEdit
After pitching just two games for the Pirates in 1980, he was purchased by the Seattle Mariners in April. He pitched the rest of the season in Seattle, going 2-3.
Following that season, he became a free agent, and in January 1981 he was signed by the Mets. He pitched just seven games for the Mets, going 0-3 with a 9.39 ERA, before being released in May. In June he was signed as a free agent by the Giants, but never pitched for them in the majors.
A good hitter for a pitcher, Roberts had a career batting average of .194 with 7 home runs.
The other Dave RobertsEdit
His career overlapped with another Dave Roberts, who was a Major League Baseball third baseman from 1972 through 1982.