Dave Roberts, in 1972, was named an NCAA All-American and won the NCAA Player of the Year and led the nation in home runs. His Major League career did last ten years, but never panned out as anticipated. A year-by-year brief glance at the struggles of a #1 Draft Pick:
1973: Welcome to the Show
Dave Roberts opened the 1973 season as the San Diego Padres starting second baseman due to an injured Tito Fuentes. After five games, in which he went 1-for-16, Fuentes returned, and Roberts was sent to the bench. Over the next 17 games, Roberts played in eight, all as a pinch hitter. At the end of April, with Roberts batting .083 and without an extra-base hit, he was demoted to the minor leagues (where he hit .375 in 22 games).
1974: Sophomore Slump
Dave Roberts started at third base in 1974, but struggled out of the gate. He batted just .194 in April without a home run. It got worse in May, as he batted .163. Although he finally hit his first home run of the year on May 13, he had just seven extra base hits and seven RBI through the first two months. On July 21, batting just .178 in 88 games, Roberts lost his starting job, replaced by Dave Hilton. Things didn't get any better, as Roberts batted .095 the rest of the way without an RBI to finish the season with a .167 average.
1975: Hawaii Helps
Dave Roberts was playing in the minor leagues most of the year, with the Hawaii Islanders, batting .262 with 12 homers and 71 RBI in 121 games. Called up in late August, Roberts finished the year as the Padres regular third baseman, batting a very respectable .283 in 33 games down the stretch.
Dave Roberts did get to play in Hawaii all year (the good news), but he did not return to the majors (the bad news), as his offensive numbers in Hawaii slipped to a .249 average with 10 home runs and 53 RBI.
1977: Backup Catcher
Dave Roberts allowed the Padres to give Gene Tenace more playing time at first base, where Mike Ivie was still considered to be underachieving, without having to give significant playing time to third catcher Bob Davis. Roberts also played a few games in the infield. In '77, Roberts batted .220 with just one home run in 80 games.
1978: Goodbye San Diego
Dave Roberts was once again sent down to the minors to start the 1978 season. He had lost the job as Tenace's backup to rookie Rick Sweet, and with Davis seemingly entrenched as the third catcher, there was no place for Roberts on the roster. However, things changed at the end of May, as the Padres had decided to move Tenace permanently to first base, bumping Gene Richards back to the outfield. The team sent Davis down to the minors and recalled Roberts, who was hitting .267 in 36 games, to back up Sweet.
Dave Roberts ended up playing in 54 games, had just 97 at bats, and batted .216. He continued to expand his defensive flexibility, playing his first major league games in the outfield. However, the Padres finally decided to part ways with their second #1 overall pick, having traded Mike Ivie in February. Roberts was shipped off to the Texas Rangers along with outfielder Oscar Gamble. In return, the Padres acquired utility man and pinch hitter Kurt Bevacqua, first baseman Mike Hargrove, and Roberts' replacement as backup catcher, Bill Fahey.
1979: A Multi-Position Ranger
Dave Roberts made the Rangers out of Spring Training as their third catcher and utility man. With Jim Sundberg playing 150 games behind the plate and John Ellis also on the team, Roberts played every position on the field except shortstop and pitcher in 1979. Although his batting average finally came back to a respectable .262, he played in just 44 games, and wound up spending some time in Triple-A with the Tucson Toros, playing in nine games for them in August, all at second base.
1980: Goodbye Texas
Dave Roberts again served as the Rangers utility man. This year, however, he saw more time on the field, playing in 101 games. He played in 37 games at third base, 33 at shortstop, 22 at catcher, 5 in right field, and 4 each at first and second base for Texas, batting .238 and reaching double digits in homers (10) for the first time since 1973. After the season, he became a free agent himself for the first time in his career. On December 10, he signed a contract with the Houston Astros.
1981: Staying In Texas, Changing Cities
Dave Roberts spent the entire 1981 season with the Astros, but he played sparingly. He appeared in just 27 of the team's 110 games (the season was shortened due to a strike), although he still managed to play four positions. He batted .241 with one home run and five RBI in 54 at bats. The following year, Roberts was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of Spring Training for a minor league pitcher.
1982: The Road Stops in Philadelphia
Dave Roberts played in only 28 games, with just 6 hits in 33 at bats, due to a couple of stints on the disabled list.
1983: Spring Training
Dave Roberts started the 1983 season on the disabled list, and was released on May 17 without having played that year, ending his playing career.
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