David Robertson (baseball)

David Robertson

Robertson with the Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox – No. 30
Relief pitcher
Born: (1985-04-09) April 9, 1985
Birmingham, Alabama
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
June 29, 2008, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
(through 2016 season)
Win–loss record 36–27
Earned run average 2.97
Strikeouts 685
Saves 118
Career highlights and awards

David Alan Robertson (born April 9, 1985) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Chicago White Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played in MLB for the New York Yankees from 2008 through 2014.

Robertson played college baseball for the Alabama Crimson Tide, and made his MLB debut with the Yankees in 2008. Robertson was named an MLB All-Star in 2011. After Mariano Rivera retired, Robertson served as the Yankees' closer in 2014. He signed with the White Sox as a free agent after the 2014 season.

Early career

High school

Robertson was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and played his first three years at Central-Tuscaloosa High School. He was a 2-year starter for the Falcons at shortstop and pitcher. He helped lead his team to back-to-back area titles, as well as back-to-back 6A State Playoff appearances. After his junior year, Central High School was split into three smaller high schools, and Robertson attended Paul W. Bryant High School. He led the Stampede to an area title and the Class 5A State Playoffs in the school's first year of existence.


Robertson played college baseball at the University of Alabama. As a freshman in 2005, Robertson appeared in a team-high 32 games with three games started. He compiled a 7–5 record with 8 saves and a 2.92 earned run average (ERA). He led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) by limiting hitters to a .183 batting average. He was named Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-American by Baseball America.[1]

In his sophomore season, Robertson helped lead the Crimson Tide to their 25th SEC Championship. He appeared in 29 games, compiling a 4–4 record with a 3.02 ERA. He led the SEC with 10 saves. Due to Robertson being 21 at the time of the 2006 draft, he was a draft-eligible sophomore and was drafted in the 17th round by the New York Yankees. He played summer league in Cape Cod and was named Most Valuable Player of the Cape Cod League playoffs.[2]

New York Yankees

Minor Leagues

Robertson was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 17th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.

In 2007, pitching for three minor league teams, he was 8–3 with 4 saves and a 0.96 ERA in 84 13 innings, allowing 45 hits while striking out 114 batters. In 2008, pitching for two minor league teams, he was 4–0 with 3 saves and a 1.68 ERA in 53 23 innings, allowing 28 hits while striking out 77.

Major leagues


Robertson pitching in 2008

On June 28, 2008, the Yankees called him up from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees of the Triple-A International League.[3] On August 28, 2008, the Yankees optioned him back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with an earned run average of 6.31. He was recalled back to the majors on September 13.[4][5] He appeared in 25 Major League games in 2008 going 4–0 with a 5.34 ERA.


After starting the 2009 regular season in Triple-A, Robertson was recalled to the majors on April 16, 2009, to replace Xavier Nady, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The next day he was optioned back to Triple-A to open a roster spot for Juan Miranda. On May 25, 2009, he was again recalled to the majors to replace reliever Brian Bruney.[6] Robertson finished the season with a 3.30 ERA and 13.0 strikeouts per 9 innings in 43 23 innings.[7]

In the 2009 playoffs, Robertson entered two games in high-pressure situations with multiple runners on base, once in the ALDS and once in the ALCS, and managing to escape the inning without letting any runs score.[8] Robertson received the win in both games. The Yankees would go on to win the World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies, which was the first championship in Robertson's career.


Robertson finished the 2010 season with a 3.82 ERA and 10.4 strikeouts per 9 innings in 61 13 innings.[7]

In Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS against the Texas Rangers, Robertson relieved Phil Hughes in the 5th inning and surrendered a two-run home run to Nelson Cruz which gave the Rangers a 5–1 lead; the Rangers would win the game 6–1 to take the AL pennant.[9]


Robertson in 2011

The Yankees entered the 2011 season with the additions of Pedro Feliciano and Rafael Soriano. Robertson lost out to Joba Chamberlain to be the 7th inning specialist who manager Joe Girardi wanted to bridge to Soriano and closer Mariano Rivera. Injuries to Feliciano, Soriano and Chamberlain put Robertson in the 8th inning setup role, where he achieved 55 strikeouts half way through the season. Robertson was named to the 2011 American League All-Star roster replacing David Price for his first All-Star appearance.[10] He finished the season with 100 strikeouts, becoming the first Yankee reliever since Rivera (in 1996) to record 100 strikeouts in a single season.[11][12] Robertson finished his breakout season leading the league in ERA (1.08) and holds (34), along with a 13.5 strikeouts per 9 innings ratio (2nd in the AL), and an MLB-leading adjusted ERA+ of 410.[7] He received exactly one point in the voting for both the AL Cy Young Award (the only non-starter or non-closer with a vote) and AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award (the only reliever with a vote). Robertson also won the This Year in Baseball Setup Man of the Year Award.


In January 2012, the Yankees and Robertson agreed on a 1-year non-guaranteed contract worth $1.6 million, plus another $25,000 in incentives.

When Rivera went down with a season-ending injury in May 2012, Girardi announced that Robertson and Soriano would share the duties of closing games for the remainder of the season.[13] Robertson himself would be placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 15 after a he strained a muscle in his rib cage, twelve days after Rivera's season-ending ACL injury. He returned to action on June 15,[14] but after several appearances became the setup man for Soriano. Robertson finished the 2012 season 2–7 with a 2.67 ERA and 2 saves in 65 games.


In 2013, Robertson served as the 8th inning specialist (setup man) behind Rivera. He appeared in 70 games during 2013 going 5–1 with 3 saves and a 2.04 ERA.


Rivera retired after the 2013 season. During spring training in 2014, Robertson was named the Yankees' closer.[15] On April 7, 2014, Robertson was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a groin strain. Robertson had a successful season in 2014 as he compiled a 3.08 ERA and was successful on 39 out of 44 save attempts. He showed the Yankees he could be a good replacement for Rivera. On November 10 Robertson officially declined the Yankees' $15.3-million qualifying offer for the 2015 season, making him a free agent.[16][17]

Chicago White Sox

After the 2014 season, Robertson became a free agent. He subsequently agreed to a four-year, $46 million contract with the Chicago White Sox.[18]

Pitching style

With an overhand delivery, Robertson throws a four-seam fastball typically at 92–93 mph (occasionally reaches 95–96 mph). Robertson's main off-speed pitch is a curveball in the low 80s. Infrequently, he throws a circle changeup to left-handed hitters in the mid-high 80s.[19] Although Robertson's fastball speed is not unusually high, his long stride toward home plate during his delivery appears to "add" 2 mph to his fastball by shortening the ball's time in flight.[20] His fastball also has a "natural cut" to it, making it appear as if he is throwing a cut fastball.[21]

Robertson has always had a high walk rate (about 1 every 2-3 innings over his career), but this is mitigated by an outstanding strikeout rate; Robertson has averaged at least one strikeout per inning in every year of his career so far. His high strikeout rate has proved useful in critical late-inning situations — in 2011, Robertson struck out 14 of the 19 hitters he faced with the bases loaded and allowed only one hit.[22] His tendency to invite trouble by walking batters, only to escape it by getting strikeouts, earned him the nickname "Houdini."

Personal life

His brother, Connor, formerly played for the Oakland Athletics and the Arizona Diamondbacks.[23][24][25] Robertson married Erin Cronin in January 2009.[26][27] They had their first child, a boy named Luke Joseph Robertson, on August 27, 2012.[28]

Robertson and his wife started a charitable foundation called "High Socks for Hope" to help the victims of Robertson's hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama deal with the tornado strikes in 2011. Robertson agreed to donate $100 for every strikeout he recorded in the season.[29][30] For his work, Robertson was nominated for the 2011 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award.[31]


  1. "Robertson Named to Baseball America's Freshman All-American Squad". rolltide.com. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  2. "David Robertson Named Cape Cod League Playoff MVP". rolltide.com. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  3. Botte, Peter (June 29, 2008). "Kei Igawa takes demotion in stride". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  4. "Yankees Demote Robertson". WFTV. The Sports Network. August 28, 2008. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  5. "Hughes returns to majors after 12 K's in International League title game". ESPN. Associated Press. September 13, 2008. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  6. Farrell, Tim (May 25, 2009). "New York Yankees recall reliever David Robertson". Nj.com. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  7. 1 2 3 "David Robertson Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  8. DiComo, Anthony (October 18, 2009). "Robertson proving invaluable for Yanks". Major League Baseball. Retrieved October 27, 2009.
  9. Matthews, Wallace (October 23, 2010). "Joe Girardi sank season in fifth inning". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  10. Brennan, Sean (July 10, 2011). "David Robertson lands All Star spot". New York: NY Daily News. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  11. Ehalt, Matt (September 29, 2011). "Robertson ready for the eighth inning". ESPN. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  12. Barbarisi, Daniel (September 27, 2011). "100 Reasons Robertson Is the Closer in Waiting". WSJ.com. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  13. Boland, Erik (May 4, 2012). "Robertson, Soriano will share closer duties". Newsday (Long Island). Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  14. Hoch, Bryan (June 15, 2012). "Robertson returns, Phelps sent to Minors". MLB.com. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  15. "No surprise: Yankees' David Robertson gets official nod as closer | MLB.com: News". Mlb.mlb.com. March 24, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  16. "David Robertson Gets Qualifying Offer". ESPN, Inc. November 3, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  17. "Changes MLB Can Make to Fix the Qualifying Offer Dilemma in Free Agency". Bleacher Report. November 15, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  18. "Chicago White Sox acquire Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson - ESPN Chicago". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  19. "PITCHf/x Player Card: David Robertson". BrooksBaseball.net. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  20. Verducci, Tom (April 12, 2011). "How a Danish tech company is revolutionizing pitching data". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  21. Kepner, Tyler (October 19, 2009). "Bullpen Move Backfires on Yankees". New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  22. "David Robertson 2011 Pitching Splits - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
  23. "Pitching brothers David and Connor Robertson arrive in the majors within hours of each other". al.com. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  24. "Get to know: David Robertson goes from 'Bama to the Bronx". USATODAY.COM. August 7, 2010. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  25. "Connor Robertson". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  26. Kernan, Kevin (June 15, 2008). "Joba II ... With A Twist". NYPOST.com. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  27. "David Robertson Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights | yankees.com: Team". Newyork.yankees.mlb.com. March 19, 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  28. Hoch, Bryan; Steven Miller (August 28, 2012). "Robertson gets an inning in on day son is born". MLB.com. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  29. "The David and Erin Robertson Foundation". High Socks for Hope. April 27, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  30. "Robertson pledges aid to ravaged hometown". m.yankees.mlb.com. May 27, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  31. Sanchez, Jesse (September 12, 2011). "Six Marvin Miller Award finalists announced". m.mlb.com. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
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