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Lance Berkman

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Full Name: William Lance Berkman Primary Position: OF,LF,RF,1B
Height/Weight: 6' 1"/205 First Game: July 16, 1999
Birthdate: February 10, 1976 MLB Experience: 8 years
Birthplace: Waco, Texas
Bat/Throw: Both/Left


Biography

Lance Berkman (William Lance Berkman) was born on February 10, 1976 in Waco, Texas. He made his Major League debut on July 16, 1999 for the Houston Astros. In 2000, his rookie year, he hit .297 with 21 home runs and 67 RBI. Berkman played for the Houston Astros for his entire 8 year career.

Most people believe that Lance Berkman's best season was 2001, when he slugged 34 home runs, hit for a .331 average and knocked in 126 runs.

Scouting Report

Berkman is a switch hitter that excels in hitting the ball to the opposite field. He is stronger batting left-handed and uses the short fence in left field at Minute Maid Park often.

Hitting

Berkman is one of the best, if not the best, switch-hitter in the game today. He has a great eye at the plate and rarely gets himself out, forcing opposing pitchers to work at retiring him. While it's no secret he fares better as a left-handed hitter, he's made strides from the right side of the plate in recent seasons.

As a left-handed hitter he has power to all fields and is just as adept at lining doubles into the gaps as he is at popping the ball out of any part of any ballpark. He has excellent bat control and is willing to hit the ball where it's pitched, making him an extremely dangerous hitter.

As a right-handed hitter he has as much raw power as any hitter in the game but has a hard time translating it to the field. Early in his career he struggled so much from the right side that there was talk that he should stick to hitting left-handed, but he's recently squashed those talks. He's become more adept at going to right field but his home run power remains almost strictly to left. When he does get ahold of one he can hit some tape measure shots.

Like any hitter, Berkman does have his weaknesses. He will chase high fastballs in almost any count and tends to chase pitches in the dirt when behind in the count. He has a hole inside when batting left-handed, but pitchers have to be nearly perfect when trying to hit that spot or he will punish the ball.

Baserunning and Defense

Tearing his ACL prior to the 2005 season might have actually helped Berkman on the bases. The injury caused him to slim down and lose weight, making him a little quicker on his feet after he fully recovered from the injury. He was never a burner but his speed is slightly above average. He'll never be a stolen base threat as his baserunning instincts leave something to be desired. He's essentially a station-to-station runner.

Defensively, Berkman has been moved around quite a bit in his career. He played first base in college and throughout his minor league career but had to be moved due to Astros legend Jeff Bagwell being entrenched at that position. He was mostly relegated to the corner outfield spots where he was serviceable, but was forced into center field in 2002, where every fly ball was an adventure with him. When Bagwell's arthritic right shoulder cost him his career early in the 2005 season, Berkman took over at first base and figures to stick there for the rest of his career.

Berkman has quickly readjusted to first base. He's a very quick fielder with soft hands and is great at digging low throws. His days in the outfield seem to have served him well as he shows tremendous range at the position. His arm is about average for right field and is therefore pretty strong for a first baseman.

Statistics

Batting Stats

Year Team G AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG 2B 3B BB SO HBP SH SB IBB GDP
1999 HOU N 34 93 10 22 4 15 .237 .321 .387 2 0 12 21 0 0 5 0 2
2000 HOU N 114 353 76 105 21 67 .297 .388 .561 28 1 56 73 1 0 6 1 6
2001 HOU N 156 577 110 191 34 126 .331 .430 .620 55 5 92 121 13 0 7 5 8
2002 HOU N 158 578 106 169 42 128 .292 .405 .578 35 2 107 118 4 0 8 20 10
2003 HOU N 153 538 110 155 25 93 .288 .412 .515 35 6 107 108 9 1 5 13 10
2004 HOU N 160 544 104 172 30 106 .316 .450 .566 40 3 127 101 10 0 9 14 10
2005 HOU N 132 468 76 137 24 82 .293 .411 .524 34 1 91 72 4 0 4 12 18
2006 HOU N 152 536 95 169 45 136 .315 .420 .621 29 0 98 106 4 0 3 22 11
2007 HOU N 153 561 95 156 34 102 .278 .386 .510 24 2 94 125 8 0 7 11 11
2008 HOU N 159 554 114 173 29 106 .312 .420 .567 46 4 99 108 7 0 18 18 13
Total 1371 4802 896 1449 288 961 .302 .413 .560 328 24 883 953 60 1 72 116 99

Fielding Stats

Year Team POS G GS INN PO A ERR DP TP PB SB CS PkO AVG
1999 HOU N RF 7 5 46.2 8 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .889
1999 HOU N OF 27 21 203.2 42 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .955
1999 HOU N 1B 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1999 HOU N LF 22 16 157 33 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .971
2000 HOU N RF 63 59 505.1 103 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 .948
2000 HOU N LF 40 31 269.1 68 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
2000 HOU N OF 96 90 774.2 171 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 .967
2000 HOU N 1B 2 0 5 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
2001 HOU N OF 155 153 1368 306 7 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 .981
2001 HOU N RF 7 2 29 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .875
2001 HOU N LF 128 111 1013.2 218 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 .982
2001 HOU N CF 40 40 325.1 81 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .988
2002 HOU N LF 76 31 351.1 46 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .940
2002 HOU N OF 156 155 1364.1 293 6 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 .977
2002 HOU N RF 12 6 58 18 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
2002 HOU N CF 122 118 955 229 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .983
2003 HOU N LF 153 153 1348.1 253 10 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .989
2003 HOU N CF 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
2003 HOU N OF 153 153 1350.1 254 10 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .989
2004 HOU N 1B 4 0 4 5 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
2004 HOU N RF 90 89 780.1 148 9 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
2004 HOU N CF 2 1 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
2004 HOU N LF 70 68 608.2 93 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .979
2004 HOU N OF 160 158 1398 243 11 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .992
2005 HOU N OF 49 45 362.2 66 2 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 .958
2005 HOU N DH 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
2005 HOU N LF 39 35 284.2 50 2 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 .945
2005 HOU N 1B 96 84 737.2 771 49 5 77 0 0 0 0 0 .994
2005 HOU N RF 11 10 78 16 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
2006 HOU N RF 42 37 305.2 56 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 .952
2006 HOU N 1B 112 105 923 964 71 6 96 0 0 0 0 0 .994
2006 HOU N LF 5 2 25.2 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
2006 HOU N OF 44 39 331.1 61 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 .955
2006 HOU N DH 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
2007 HOU N 1B 126 122 1066.1 1015 103 10 86 0 0 0 0 0 .991
2007 HOU N RF 31 27 229.2 49 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .962
2007 HOU N OF 31 27 230.2 49 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .962
2007 HOU N CF 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
2007 HOU N DH 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
2008 HOU N 1B 152 151 1307.1 1240 132 5 122 0 0 0 0 0 .996
2008 HOU N DH 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Total 1B 493 462 4044.1 3998 357 26 384 0 0 0 0 0 .994
Total LF 533 447 4058.2 766 20 16 2 0 0 0 0 0 .980
Total CF 166 159 1292.1 313 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 .985
Total OF 871 841 7383.2 1485 46 34 7 0 0 0 0 0 .978
Total DH 12 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Total RF 263 235 2032.2 405 20 13 6 0 0 0 0 0 .970

Transactions

  • Selected by Houston Astros in the 1st round (16th pick overall) of the free-agent draft (June 3, 1997 - signed June 4, 1997).

Trivia

He attended Rice University, where he was named the 1997 National College Player of the Year, playing for the legendary Wayne Graham, as well as named a first team All-America by Collegiate Baseball Magazine, Baseball America and The Sporting News. He was invited to visit the White House and dine with President Clinton along with the rest of the Baseball America honorees.

Lance has had the nickname "Fat Elvis" for several years, after an ESPN the Magazine interview in which he stated that his mother thought he looked like Elvis. Lance Zierlein asked him, "the fat one or the skinny one," to which he answered, "I guess the fat one." Additionally, in 2005, he was given the short-lived nickname "Berkwell" once he took over Jeff Bagwell's first base position.

He is now most popularly known as the "The Big Puma." During the offseason in early 2008, Berkman did an interview on a local Houston sports station, 1560 The Game. The interviewer jokingly asked Lance to coin a new nickname for himself. He sarcasticly responded that he played baseball like a puma, that is, he is fierce, sleek, and powerful, yet quick on his feet. And despite its comedic origins, the fans and media have latched onto "The Big Puma" and it now seems to be firmly entrenched as Berkman's nickname.


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