Last week I started my "Almost" awards. In case you missed it, I am going through the voting for all the major awards and seeing which Padres have received votes, yet have come up short. Next up on the list is former SP Dave Roberts. Now let's clarify. There have been 4 Dave Roberts to play in the majors with the Padres employing 3 of them, so this can get confusing. The lone non-Padre is 1B/OF Dave Roberts who debuted in 1962 and played parts of 3 seasons with the Colt .45's & Pirates. Then there is former Padres OF Dave "Doc" Roberts who is now a coach on the 2011 staff. There was also 3rd baseman Dave Roberts, who coincidentally was drafted by the Padres shortly after the SP Dave Roberts was traded from the Padres. Apparently they didn't want the jersey to go to waste. Have I confused you enough yet?
In the 1968 expansion draft the Padres took a 23 year old lefty by the name of Dave Roberts with the 39th pick. Despite putting up some solid numbers in the minors, Roberts had no Major League experience to that point. That was all to change as the expansion Padres would finally give him that opportunity. After spending most of the 1969 and 1970 seasons in the Padres bullpen, 1971 came and with it a spot in the starting rotation. In what would be he final year in a Padres uniform, Roberts put together a great season for a bad team. A 2.10 ERA while allowing a major league low 9 home runs in 269.2 innings pitched, earned him not only Cy Young Award consideration, but MVP votes as well. Despite putting up great numbers, he played for a team that only won 61 games and ended up finishing 14-17 that season. Of those 17 losses, 6 were by 1 run and in his 34 starts that year the offense averaged only 2.32 runs per game for him.
Roberts finished tied for 6th in the NL Cy Young voting that year. With a WAR of 8.5 he only trailed the Cubs Fergie Jenkins (10.6) and Mets Tom Seaver (9.6). That's some pretty good company if you ask me. He clearly wasn't deserving of the award but he still had one heckuva season. Fine enough to place him tied for 24th (with Pete Rose) in the NL MVP voting even. He would never again recieve either MVP or Cy Young votes. And in fact was even snubbed by his own team, as the Padres MVP that year went to fellow starting pitcher Clay Kirby, who also had a solid season.
Roberts would be traded that December to the Houston Astros for Bill Grief, Mark Shaeffer and Derrel Thomas and would go on to play 10 more seasons in the majors. After changing organizations 11 times in his career he once joked that "The way I look at it, either I'm a bum or everybody wants me." Roberts is considered one of the top Jewish pitchers of all-time, ranking 4th in Wins & Strikeouts behind only Sandy Koufax, Ken Holtzman and Steve Stone. Roberts passed away from lung cancer in January of 2009 at the age of 64.