Brian Roberts and the art of the two-bagger

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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.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.

Kyle Schwarber is the frontrunner to bat leadoff for the Cubs

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 07:  Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 7, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon says C/OF Kyle Schwarber is the frontrunner to bat leadoff for the team this season, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Schwarber, 23, has hit out of the leadoff spot only eight times in his young career, but the move up the batting order mostly just means more opportunities for him to swing his potent bat. He hit .246/.355/.487 with 16 home runs and 43 RBI in 273 plate appearances in his rookie season in 2015.

Schwarber suffered serious injuries early in the 2016 season when he collided with teammate Dexter Fowler in the Arizona outfield. He tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, which everyone thought ended his 2016 season entirely. However, Schwarber returned for the start of the World Series against the Indians. In 20 plate appearances over five games, Schwarber contributed six singles, a double, and three walks.