First of all, should I be comparing Berkman's stats with those of Hall of Fame first basemen or outfielders? Lately, he's been playing mostly first base for the Astros, but he has also played a great deal of left and right field in the past. Maybe this versatility will help him if his numbers happen to fall a little short.
Berkman is only 32, but will likely reach 300 home runs before season's end. He will also be on the verge of 1,500 hits and 1,000 RBI. According to the Bill James Handbook, James has projected Berkman's final stats to resemble something to the effect of 2449/446/.293/.410 (H, HR, BA, OBP).
Only seven other players have ended their career with 2,400 hits, 400 home runs, and a .400+ OBP. These players are: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, and Mel Ott. Granted, Berkman is at the very bottom of this list in nearly every category. And these are only projections; Berkman's career is barely half over.
Lance was never an outstanding fielder, though not a bad one. And we all know 400 home runs aren't what they used to be. This certainly isn't going to change when it comes time for him to appear on the ballot. But Berkman is a switch hitter, not unlike another player I recently wrote about, which also adds to his versatility aspect. I mean, a manager never has to worry about a big righty, or a nasty lefty coming in to shut him down.
If nothing else, it could be his stylish second-place finish at the 2004 Home Run Derby that gains him access to Cooperstown. Or maybe just the fact that he didn't do steroids. Or maybe he won't even get in. Tell me what you think, people!
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