I Miss Derrick Robinson

Denis Poroy

The return of Ryan Ludwick signaled a temporary end to Derrick Robinson's stint with the Reds. I want him back.

There are really only two ways to interpret things when a group of folks respond to a question or statement with the collective answer of "who?!"

There's a reasonable chance that it's a rhetorical "who," meaning they think the answer they'd like to provide is either so obvious or so unbelievable that they need assurance that there's no slip of the tongue or slight of hand being played.  This, for example, is the kind of "who?!" you would hear in response to me looking at Charlie Scrabbles and telling him, "Jennifer Connelly, Lyndsy Fonseca, and Alison Brie are in the hot tub out back and they just won't stop yelling your name."

There's also the off-chance that you'll get "who?!" in response because the statement you've made revolves around a name that's so obscure that it could only be a mistake, a horrible mispronunciation, or made up entirely.  This is precisely the kind of "who?!" that echoed through Goodyear Stadium in March of 2013 when it was made aware to BK, Charlie Scrabbles, -ManBearPig, Peteyhendrix, UncleWeez, and me that for the first game of Red Reporter Spring Break 2013, we'd be treated with seeing Derrick Robinson start for the Cincinnati Reds in LF.

"Who?!" - Everyone

"Maybe he's Frank Robinson's nephew or grandson and the Reds are being nice." - Someone

"Oh, lovely.  He's a former Royals' farmhand who barely slugged .320 in...in the PCL?!  That must be a typo." - Me

That was our first foray into the career of Derrick Robinson, Cincinnati Red, and we felt fairly certain it would be our last impression of him playing with the big leaguers.

Oh, but how injuries can reshape a roster, and how one player can change my perception.

I miss Derrick Robinson.

I miss watching Derrick Robinson play baseball, but maybe more importantly, I miss knowing Derrick Robinson is on the 25 man roster.  Yes.  Much of me misses watching Derrick Robinson not play baseball for the Cincinnati Reds.

Derrick Robinson, big league ball player, is a sign of a healthy baseball ecosystem.  He's the remora cleaning the Great White.  He's the Oxpecker that sits on the shoulders of a rhinoceros, eating the flies that would otherwise plague the beast while simultaneously being kept safe of any predator that may want it for lunch.

He's the Gari you eat after your sushi.

When Robinson was optioned to AAA Louisville to make way for the returning Ryan Ludwick, he had this to say to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Enquirer:

"Coming up, I knew I was replacing Ludwick and it was my opportunity to help the team and make a name for myself," Robinson said. "I feel during that time, that's exactly what I was doing, doing my best to help the team win and put us in a good position for the playoffs and make a name for myself, as well."

While I admire Robinson's willingness to accept his role, I've got to disagree with him a bit.  Replacement player he was not; perfect complement, he proved to be.  According to Baseball Reference, Robinson's .254/.325/.329 line over his 195 PA was, coupled with his defense, good for 0.5 WAR, which is far superior to the cumulative -1.3 WAR compiled by Chris Heisey and Xavier Paul, his counterparts in Left Field this season.

Numbers are numbers, of course, and they do tell a story, but what Robinson showed more than the other rotational OFs was a pair of MLB caliber skills that neither Heisey or Paul possess:  speed, and above average corner and Center Field defense - skills that a healthy Ryan Ludwick in LF and Shin-Soo Choo in CF lack.

Derrick Robinson is not a replacement for either, yet he's the perfect complement for both.  He is to the Cincinnati Reds as "Girls" is to License to Ill, a song that fits on an album full of talent, but otherwise wouldn't hold up as a single from a band that tried to make that sound routinely.

Robinson was sent to AAA Louisville for the obvious reason that he had options while neither Paul nor Heisey did.  That's the surface explanation, and it's valid enough that the Reds don't need to delve further into their decision.  Secretly, what I also feel is the case is that Walt Jocketty & Co. fear that if Ryan Ludwick cannot come close to replicating his 2012 performance, one of Heisey or Paul has the best chance to get hot enough over a short stretch to provide similarity to Ludwick's performance, whereas Robinson cannot.

That's a fair assumption, is it not?  They kept replacement players on the roster while optioning a complementary piece instead.  They opted for insurance, and it's hard to fault them for doing so.

I want Derrick Robinson to have a career as a Red, because he's the perfect sidekick to what the current Reds' roster needs the most:  2012 Ryan Ludwick.

I miss Derrick Robinson.  I miss him because his presence on the 25 man roster would mean that there would also be a lumbering slugger in the middle of the lineup honking wangers through the first 7 innings before giving way to a relief pitcher's defensive dream.

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