It was announced Monday that Lance Berkman will have another procedure on his right knee and that he is done for the season. His knee issues have only allowed him to play in 31 games this season, and his career is very much in doubt. Furthermore, many of his recent comments would point to the fact that he is heavily considering retiring from baseball.
If Berkman retires, will he have a spot in Cooperstown?
Arguments for YES:
1. 10 Elite Seasons:
From 2001 to 2009, Berkman was easily one of the best players in all of MLB. After an injury-riddled 2010 campaign, he came back to have an incredible 2011 season with the Cardinals. Hall of Fame voters look at how these players compare to other elite players in the eras in which they played. If so, Berkman should be considered one of the best players of the 2000s.
2. Postseason Performer:
In 52 career Postseason games, Berkman was a consistent and productive performer. These are his playoff numbers: .317/.417/.532/.949. However, his World Series numbers are even better: .410/.520/.564/1.084. He is also one of the more unsung heroes of the 2011 World Series. Lest we forget, it was Berkman’s RBI single in extra innings in Game 6 that helped the Cardinals avoid losing the World Series when they were down to their last strike (for the second time).
3. All-time Switch Hitter:
Berkman is easily one of the top 10 best switch hitters of all time. The first-tier switch hitters would have to be Mantle, Rose, Murray, Jones and Alomar, but you could make the argument that he is in the second-tier of switch hitters all-time.
Arguments for NO:
1. Lacks Round Numbers:
If Berkman had been able to stay healthy and play another couple of seasons beyond 2012, he would have likely made it beyond 400 career HRs and put himself in the neighborhood of 1,500 career RBIs. Voters like round numbers, and Berkman will lack them in some key statistical categories.
2. Defensive & Base Running Liability:
Hall of Famers like Roberto Alomar and George Davis had great offensive careers, but it was their defense and base running that helped put them over the top. Berkman will not have that luxury.
3. No Awards:
As great as Berkman was over his career, he won zero MVPs, Gold Gloves, or Silver Sluggers. Hall of Fame voters look at such distinctions to help define a player’s overall career performance.
My Opinion: Hall of Famer
By no means is the Puma a first-ballot type of a Hall of Famer, but I do think that his elongated career success should earn him a place in the Hall. As one of the best player in one of MLB’s most talented eras, I think he has earned it.
My gut: NOT a Hall of Famer
I say this because I think that the voters will not vote for him based on his lack of career milestone numbers and his struggles with defense and base running. Hopefully the voters surprise me.
That is what I think, but we want to hear from you. Tweet to @MLBFanCave and @KyleOKC and tell us whether or not Lance Berkman deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.