You can’t steal first base.
That’s the adage that serves as a reminder that, no matter a baserunner’s speed, it means nothing if they don’t get on base to utilize it. It also serves as the best way to summarize Derrick Robinson‘s career as a professional baseball player.
The Royals paid Robinson a nice bonus back in 2006 to lure him away from the University of Florida and a football scholarship on the hopes that he’d become a Juan Pierre type of leadoff hitter. In many ways, he’s fit that comparison.
Robinson took a step forward in 2010, setting career highs in every “major” offensive category except for stolen bases (and he still stole 50 of those). This came after a final month of 2009 where he added some power, hitting five homers in August.
As a 24-year-old in Double A for the second straight year, Robinson needed to continue that development to take another step towards the majors. While his 2011 wasn’t a catastrophe – he improved his walkrate and had the second highest OBP of his career while still stealing 46 bases – he didn’t make any advances on the stat sheet. He was fortunate for the speed that allowed him to steal bases because it augmented what otherwise was a single-laden season. Robinson had 105 hits. All but nine went for one base alone.
I thought Robinson would start last year in Triple A. Instead, he spent all season in Northwest Arkansas. He’s covered two levels of the minors in four years, spending 2008 and 2009 in High A Wilmington.
The Royals protected Robinson from the Rule 5 draft last winter by adding him to the 40 man roster, but his standing in the organization is falling. Robinson’s defense will give him a shot at the majors some day, but his window to make it is closing quickly. He’s fast, but is he fast enough to break through before the opportunity is lost for good?