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
This final section highlights “The Big Puma” or “Fat Elvis” depending on which nickname you prefer. His years in Minute Maid Park featured a fan club dubbed “The Little Pumas” so that’s probably the name that most people will use to identify Lance Berkman.
Any one of about ten seasons qualifies Berkman for this list. His lowest OPS+ of 130 came in the same season that I chose for Carlos Lee a moment ago. His career year, 2006, earned him an OPS+ of a staggering 163. Career-highs were set in runs batted in (136), home runs (45), and slugging percentage (.621). 2006 was one of six appearances for Berkman on the All-Star team and one of five as a member of the Houston Astros. Lance also ranked well among his peers, finishing 3rd in the MVP race, behind only Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols.
Unfortunately his performance in 2006 does not qualify Berkman for this installment of the series. But wait! Remember how I said he had many seasons with an oustanding OPS+? Well, there were two seasons in which Lance logged significant playing time in left field. In the second season in which the Astros played at Enron Field (now called Minute Maid Park), Berkman set a career high in doubles with 55 of them. He also managed 5 triples while driving in 126 runs and hitting 34 round-trippers. His slash-line of .331/.430/.620 is impressive on its own. But his on-base plus slugging was a career high of 1.051. Just beautiful statistics on paper.