2008: Lance Berkman
Apr 5, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; former Houston Astro Lance Berkman is honored prior to the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
The “Big Puma” or “Fat Elvis” took over 1st base when Bagwell retired in 2005. Lance Berkman was drafted in the first round of the 1997 MLB draft, 16th overall. He quickly moved through the minor leagues and made his debut in 1999. Berkman was already a local celebrity because he went to college at Rice University.
Berkman, like Craig Biggio played multiple positions as an Astro. Berkman was a 6 time All-Star at multiple positions including first base, center field, and left field. In 2008, Berkman got off to a hot start hitting 22 home runs before the All-Star break, but ended up the season hitting only 29 home runs.
Highlights of his 2008 season.
Lance Berkman won the player of the Month award in May, and won several player of the week awards. He hit his 300th career home run against Jon Garland, as well as making s splash landing in McCovey’s Cove in San Francisco. He finished 5th in MVP voting.
His stats (from Baseball Reference):
- .312 BA/.420 OBP/.567 SLG/.986 OPS
- 173 hits
- 46 doubles
- 4 triple
- 29 HRs
- 106 RBI
- 18 stolen bases
- 99 walks
- 6.8 WAR
Although Berkman was unable to reproduce similar numbers in 2009 or beyond, 2008 was Berkman’s best overall season. Two years later in 2010 is when the Astros rebuilding effort began by trading Berkman to the Yankees. Berkman had a bounce back year in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals (gag), hitting 0.301/ 31 HR/ 94 RBI/ 6 SB.
Berkman tried again in 2012 with Cardinals and 2013 with the Rangers, but both times he failed be the star he once was. He retired at 37-years old after 15 years in the majors. He is now assisting at Rice University with the baseball team.
Did You Know: Berkman appeared in another World Series besides with the Astros during the 2005 season, what team and year was it?
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