Matthew Taylor: Approaching club record, no double trouble for Machado

One of the nice things about great individual performances are that they bring attention to past player accomplishments. Such is the case with Manny Machado and Brian Roberts.

Machado hit his major league-leading 33rd double of the season this week, which tied Roberts’ Orioles record for most doubles prior to an All-Star Game. Machado is likely to break that 2008 mark as soon as this weekend and has Roberts’ single-season franchise record for doubles in his sights.

After setting an Orioles record with 51 doubles in 2008, Roberts one-upped himself (five-upped, actually) with 56 doubles in 2009. The 2009 total was a tribute to consistency, as Roberts hit 29 doubles in the first half of the season and 27 doubles in the second half of the season. Compare that to 2008 when he followed up his record 33 doubles before the break with 18 doubles in the season’s second half.

Even if Roberts’ team record is to fall, those 56 doubles will still stand as the major league record for a switch-hitter, which he established on Sept. 29, 2009. His leadoff double in the third inning against the Rays’ Wade Davis broke Lance Berkman’s previous mark of 55 doubles in 2001. Pete Rose held the record for switch-hitters prior to Berkman with 51 doubles in 1978, although the Expos’ Jose Vidro tied him in 2000.

Roberts was low key about his own success in 2009 given the team’s struggles.

“It seems kind of silly to talk about personal things at this point,” he said. “It’s certainly a blessing and humbling to be put in the category of all those great switch-hitters that have played the game.”

Roberts’ record double came as part of a 3-1 setback to the Rays that was the team’s 12th consecutive loss of the season, the longest such run of futility in the majors that year. His then-team record setting 51st double in 2008 came amidst an 11-game losing streak to end the season.

Machado is enjoying great individual success as the Orioles experience great team success. Roberts only had the former, which is why it’s nice to see him get some attention in light of Machado’s accomplishment.

Roberts wasn’t much for celebrating his individual success back in September 2009; hopefully he’ll be healthy enough to enjoy the team’s success this September.

Other doubles-related facts:

* In addition to holding the team record for doubles and the major league record for doubles by a switch-hitter, Roberts is one of four players with three 50-double seasons. The others are Stan Musial, Tris Speaker and Paul Waner.

“Any time you’re in the company of three Hall of Famers - and you’re the only one who’s not a very good player - that’s kind of cool,” Roberts said.

* Machado will likely top Roberts’ team record for doubles prior to the All-Star Game, but he’s still nine short of Edgar Martinez’s 42 doubles for the Seattle Mariners prior to the 1999 All-Star Game.

* Earl Webb of the Red Sox holds the major league record for doubles with 67 in 1931. They didn’t have an All-Star Game in 1931, but the 33-year-old Webb had 30 doubles through June. He hit 18 doubles in July, his best monthly total of the season. Webb appeared in 151 of his team’s 152 games in 1931.

* Only six players have had more than 60 doubles in a season. Eight players have had more than 60 home runs in a season.

* Roberts ranks fifth all-time among Orioles batters with 340 career doubles. Nick Markakis is the only other active player in the top 10; he ranks eighth with 280 doubles. Cal Ripken Jr. leads the category with 603 doubles. Ripken’s single-season best for doubles was 47 in 1983.

* The 2008 Orioles had three of the top four spots for most doubles in baseball. Dustin Pedroia lead the majors that season with 54 doubles followed by Roberts with 51 and Aubrey Huff and Markakis with 48 each. The 2013 Orioles could represent a similar threat to the doubles leader board. Chris Davis is tied for third in the American League with 23 doubles and Adam Jones is tied for fifth with 22 doubles.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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