Lance Berkman confirms that his playing career is over. Details coming at http://t.co/8DpyxzGPIn— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) January 29, 2014
While the last few years have been rough on him physically, kudos to Puma for knowing when to call it quits. He deserves to be remembered for not just what he contributed on the field, but also for what he did off the diamond.
Berkman put up his biggest numbers with the Houston Astros. A career .293 hitter, he was feared at the plate.
He never had quite the accolades of Albert Pujols or Derek Jeter, but he was no less valuable to his team—both as a player and as a clubhouse personality.
When I say personality, I mean it in every sense of the word. When Berkman joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, he was an easy fit from day one.
He's a funny guy and a pleasure to be around. At the same time, it's difficult to say his name without words like "honest" and "genuine" coming to mind.
He's always been the real deal.
My all-time favorite Berkman quote was told to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in September 2011. He told Strauss that "it's always about the money. No matter what people say, it's always about the money." Just like it is for those of us who work for far less than eight figures.
That blunt honesty, which never came off as cocky or rude, was a breath of fresh air to a game that was in serious need of a makeover.
The funny thing about Berkman is that he has never seemed like a guy who was above anyone he was around. Maybe it’s his ability to command a room or to stick around the clubhouse and take the fall for his teammates after a bad night.
Whatever it is, it’s hard not to like him.
When he first came to St. Louis, some scratched their heads about the signing. They thought he was too old and washed up, which—combined with his injury history—made him an interesting acquisition.
It didn’t take long for Berkman to show St. Louis that general manager John Mozeliak had made the right deal. In his first season as a Cardinal, he batted .301/.412/.547 with 31 home runs and 94 RBI, quickly cementing himself as a fan favorite in the Gateway City.
While his stay in St. Louis was brief, he definitely made his mark in Cardinals history. Berkman played a major role in helping the team secure its 11th World Championship and found himself deeply involved in one of the most infamous games in organization history.
A borderline Hall of Famer, it’s difficult to say for certain whether he will make it to Cooperstown. If he does, it will obviously be for his time with the Astros, his role in the “Killer Bs” and his string of accomplishments as a switch-hitter.
The Hall of Fame still eludes the other two members of the Killer Bs—Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. It doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to see the three make the cut together a few years down the road.
As Aaron Gleeman of Hardballtalk.com pointed out Wednesday, Berkman is the No. 2 switch-hitter of all time with a .943 OPS that's sandwiched between Mickey Mantle and Chipper Jones.
Plenty will argue that his overall numbers aren’t exciting enough for him to be enshrined, but when the time comes it will no doubt make for some good discussion.
In a time when many continue to question whether there are still good guys in the game, there has never been a doubt about Berkman. He truly is one of the good guys.
Stats from Baseball Reference and are current through Jan. 29, 2013.
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