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Quick Thoughts: Berkman a Hall-of-Famer?

May 22, 2012
  • Lance Berkman, the mullet-loving, PBR-drinking Puma, has a torn meniscus and is out six to eight weeks, and may be out longer, depending on whether or not he needs to have his ACL replaced. Berkman only played in 13 of the Cardinals’ 43 games this season, but even if he never plays again for the Cardinals his time in St. Louis was well-spent. But was his time in St. Louis (32 homers in 158 games, .304/.414/.549) plus his time in Houston worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown? I say yes. When evaluating a player’s career for potential Hall-of-Fame enshrinement I look for his peak years, preferably seven or eight years, as well as a career with at least 10 years of solid performance. Berkman finished in the top seven of MVP voting six times, as recently as last year and as long ago as 2001. His peak, from 2001 to 2008, consisted of 263 home runs; a near-1:1 K:BB; even 61 steals; and a .303/.417/.564. That was surrounded by a good 2000 season (.297/.388/.561) and, not counting his injury-plagued 2010, a great 2011 season. He was the fifth-most valuable hitter from 2000 to ’09, according to Fangraphs’ WAR. He never had an other-worldly season or two, but his career was so steady, he always knew how to get on base and his floor was so incredibly high that any GM would want a player like Berkman on his team for 10+ years. That’s why he deserves to be in the Hall.

 

  • Flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman was named the Cincinnati Reds’ closer recently, taking over for Sean Marshall. He picked up his second save of the year tonight, striking out two and not allowing a base-runner in a spotless ninth against the Reds. Chapman’s stats this year: 23.1 IP, 41 K, 7 BB, 0 ER. He’s struck out at least one batter in every appearance this year. So you’re saying, Why’d it take so long for Dusty Baker to name Chapman closer? Well, it IS Dusty Baker, after all, but, in my opinion, this wasn’t the right move for the Reds. The Reds already have a very good reliever in Marshall who was closing for them. But due to his 4.80 ERA, which is fueled by a crazy-high .476 batting average on balls in play – which is 160 points higher than any BABIP Marshall has accrued in his previous six years – Baker removed Marshall from the closer role despite his career-best K and BB rate. So now instead of using Chapman in the seventh or eighth, which he’s done three and 14 times, respectively, so far this year, Baker will now probably call on Chapman only in the ninth inning, and only when the Reds have a lead of three or fewer runs – which is insane. Chapman should be used in the spots with the highest leverage. Whether that’s in the eighth facing the three-four-five hitters in the opponent’s lineup, or in the seventh with two outs and runners at 2nd and 3rd, and not just when the Reds are up three in the ninth – something Sean Marshall, who while good isn’t as dominant as Chapman, can easily do once his BABIP comes back down to his career level.
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