by Matthew Taylor
Brian Roberts and his father, Coach Mike Roberts, have released an instructional book, "You Can't Steal Second Base And Keep Your Foot on First!" The book comes with a DVD of Roberts stealing bases during the 2007 and 2008 season, including an opening clip of the O's second baseman victimizing former Blue Jay and current teammate, Gregg Zaun.
Here's an excerpt from Roberts introduction to the book.
"A position player has four areas around which to build his game. These are defense, offense, throwing and running. I was not nearly as good as most of my teammates growing up in any of the main areas except running. In order for a player to continue to move up through the different levels of baseball he has to find one skill in which he excels. Since I was one of the smaller players on the field base stealing became that skill for me.Roberts has stolen 20 or more bases for six consecutive seasons; his highest totals have come in the past three seasons: 50 (2007), 40 (2008), 36 (2006).
Many players like to practice hitting and some enjoy working on their defense. However, most players do not know how to work on base stealing, show little interest in learning and don't want to put out that effort. I would like to see more players spend time to improve in this area of their game.
I have to keep improving my base stealing. It evolves more each year. As you move up the game changes. This forces a player to continue to work on the details that can make the difference. Mentally, I prepare by watching film, asking for pitchers times, studying catchers, and looking for the best counts.
I am faster at thirty one than I was at twenty three. I regularly work on my speed. Most players do not like to work on their running. However, everyone is capable of improving their quickness and speed.
For me, the best part of stealing bases is I can impact a game immediately."
Roberts currently ranks fourth on the O's all-time stolen base list with 226 steals. The team leaders are George Sisler (St. Louis Browns -351), Brady Anderson (307), Al Bumbry (252), Burt Shotton (St. Louis Browns - 247), and Roberts (226). Roberts should pass Shotton and, barring injury or a trade, Bumbry this season. And were he to get the four-year deal he's seeking to stay with the Birds, he would likely retire as the team's all-time leader in stolen bases.