Lance Berkman is playing in his fourth home since 2010 as the long-time member of the Houston Astros has returned to the Lone Star State to play first base and designated hitter for the Texas Rangers. Berkman has a lifetime .296 batting average, 360 home runs, 1200 RBI and a lifetime .953 OPS. Can he continue to produce?
The Big Puma was limited to 32 games last year because of knee issues. At 37 with bad knees, Berkman brings a lot of risk to the table. Given his ability to rake and his batting order in a potent offense, there is plenty of room for optimism.
2010 was a tough season for Berkman as he hit a combined .246 with the Astros and the New York Yankees. His 14 home runs snapped a 10-year streak with at least 20 homers.
Berkman moved on to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. He responded by hitting .301 with 31 home runs, his most since clubbing 34 in 2007. Last year Berkman managed just a pair of home runs in 81 at-bats.
Berkman got off to a solid start in his debut with the Rangers, picking up a couple of hits and a run in four at-bats. He hit third behind Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, who figure to set the table all year round for Berkman. Kinsler and Andrus combined to score 190 runs last year .
Adrian Beltre, who follows Berkman, drove in 102 runs. Berkman is occupying the spot in the lineup that helped Josh Hamilton produce 128 RBI.
Beltre has had success at Rangers Ballpark, hitting .289 with a .925 OPS. He has seven home runs and 21 RBI in 34 games there.
Despite his age, Berkman still has what it takes to get the job done. Staying healthy will be the key. If his knees hold up, I can see him hitting .270 with 80 runs, 25 home runs and 85 RBI. While he’s no longer in the MVP discussion, he does have plenty of fantasy potential.
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