With the news of his retirement after 15 seasons in the big leagues, the only question remaining about the career of Lance Berkman is will it land him in Cooperstown??
Popularity of The Puma aside, his numbers make for an interesting debate.
He averaged 32 HRs and 106 RBIs per season over the course of his career and finished with a .293 batting average. A six-time All-Star, Berkman was one of the most-dangerous hitters not just on the Houston Astros but in the National League.
According to the clutch stats of Baseball-Reference.com, in 911 plate appearances with 2-outs and RISP in the 7th inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck–Berkman came through a third of the time, driving in 300 runs and batting .292.
By comparison, the recently elected Hall of Famer Frank Thomas hit .291 with 424 RBIs in 1191 similar plate appearances.
But unlike Thomas, Berkman finished shy of 2000 hits (1905) and a .300 batting average. Thomas also hit 495 HRs to Berkman’s 366.
Berkman finished Top 5 in MVP balloting four times, however, he only led the NL in any offensive category three times in his career–twice in doubles (55-2001, 46-2008) and once in RBIs (128-2002).
Hall of Fame??
It will be tough.
But it’s an outstanding resume–and St. Louis will never forget the home run or game-tying single in the 10th inning of Game 6 to help win the 2011 World Series.
Berkman was one of the most popular players in the clubhouse–amongst teammates, coaches, media, etc–he kept all accountable and was a throwback to the days of the great characters who enjoyed “holding court” in front of their lockers.