Nate Robertson is many things. He is left-handed. He, along with millions of other Americans, wears glasses. He is white. He often sports irregular facial hair. He has been described as a “nice guy” by some. He was once (still is?) a home-owner in the fine city of Detroit. He is a pitcher for the Florida Marlins. Above all else, Nate Robertson is a failure as a baseball player. Nate is most fondly remembered in Detroit for chewing TONS of big league chew to inspire Tiger rallies. That’s his legacy in Detroit.
Robertson came up in the Marlins organization. The Marlins were proud to make the bespectacled lefty a 5th round back in 1999. The Marlins thought he was worth the pick after Robertson needed Tommy John surgery as a sophomore. You have admire the Marlins for using a relatively high pick on a guy with a serious injury history.
Nate blew through the low minors with some really strong seasons. In January of 2003, Robertson was shipped to the Detroit Tigers after making handful of relief appearances in the bigs with the Marlins. Robertson made 8 starts on the historically bad 2003 Tigers, going 1-2 with an ERA of 5.44, two trends that would continue throughout his sorry career.
In 2004, Robertson was arguable the staff ace in Detroit (which isn’t saying a lot). He managed to go 12-10 on a team that finished 18 games under .500. Nate posted an ERA just a tick below 5.00 and finished 8th in the Rookie of the Year voting, tied with legends John Buck and Dave Bush. Big.
In 2005, Robertson took a step back along with the rest of the Tigers. Big Nate lost 16 games and won only 7, further establishing his reputation as a loser. He coughed up 28 home runs in 196 innings of work while striking out 122 hitters. I recall reading something in a newspaper around this time where Nate described himself as a “power-pitcher”. I recall, then, rolling on the floor in laughter. What a joke.
2006 was a banner year for the Tigers organization. The won over 90 games for the first time in nearly 20 years and the team was led by clutch hitting and terrific pitching. Several player had career years and all but one of their starting pitchers posted a winning record. That one pitcher? You guessed it, Nate Robertson. On a Tigers team that finished 28 games over .500 and outscored their opponents by 150 runs, Nate Robertson lost 13 games. Ouch! While Robertson had an ERA below 4.00 for the first time that season, his legend as a loser continued to grow. He followed up his regular season by getting the shit kicked out of him by the New York Yankees in the ALDS.
After that 2006 season, the wheels really fell off the bus for Robertson. Check out his collapse in the sewer of Major League Baseball:
- 2007: 4.76
- 2008: 6.35
- 2009: 5.44
- 2007: 96
- 2008: 71
- 2009: 85
- 2007: 1.475
- 2008: 1.660
- 2008: 1.752
- 2007: $3.2 M
- 2008: $4.2 M
- 2009: $7 M
- 2010: $10 M
One could make the argument that by the time the 2009 season came to a close, that Nate Robertson was the most overpaid player in all of baseball. He was so bad at that point that the Tigers paid almost of his salary to have to go and play for someone else! Robertson was shipped back to the Marlins before the 2010 season for a bag of balls and a bucket of human shit. Since then, he’s continued his sorry act with the Marlins.
I know I cam across kind of tough on Nate, but I watched the guy toil in Detroit for far too long. He was really never that great and was mediocre in 2006. That’s it. While Nate is probably a perfectly nice dude and might even be cool to hang out with, he sure does suck as a baseball player.
My favorite thing about Nate Robertson? His name inspired one of the great blog names of all time.