There are a million variations of articles I could introduce in relation to Lance Berkman. I could mention his A.J. Pierzynski-esque asshole-ish-ness regarding some statement he made about the Rangers in 2011 (which drew the eyre of ex-Rangers’ asshole C.J. Wilson); I could posit that he was the second of three Cardinals to break my heart in Game 6 of that season’s World Series; I could say he’s fat, slow, ugly, injury-prone. He’s an easy target to make blank, unsubstantiated, subjective statements. And no, he’s not exactly my favorite person in the world, in case you were wondering.
But if you’re asking me if he could help the Rangers in 2013, then yes, yes I do think he can help. And that’s all I really care about if I’m discussing my favorite baseball team.
According to Gerry Fraley, Nolan Ryan has offered Lance Berkman a contract to be the Rangers’ designated hitter in 2013, though Berkman’s wishes are, if he is to agree to such a commitment, he wants a 2nd year tacked on.
I’m just spitballing here, but I figure if the deal was only to be for one year, it would be somewhere in the range of $7.5-$8.0 million. If Berkman’s demands are met and he receives a 2nd year, the dollar figure would likely trickle down to somewhere in the 2-year, $12-$14 million dollar range.
If you look at Lance Berkman’s career from a historical perspective, he’s on the precipice of arguably the quietest Hall of Fame candidacy of all contemporary professional Major Leaguers. Despite having a lifetime UZR of -8.8 and well below average base running skills, he’s generated 60.1 fWAR in his career, producing a mammoth triple slash line of .296/.409/.544. And let’s not make any mistake about it: His potential role with the Rangers will require nothing more than stepping to the plate with a piece of lumber and doing bad things to a baseball.
Harboring the worst statistical player in all of Major League Baseball in 2012, Michael Young (-1.4 fWAR), the DH role, although minor in context, could prove to pay extreme dividends in 2013. The role of the DH is to get on base and hit for power, two things Michael Young is pathetic at, which are two assets Lance Berkman can provide.
The days of Berkman’s 7.9 fWAR season of 2008, in which he provided a line of .312/.420/.567, are long gone. Let’s not mistake who he was in the twilight of his prime to who he will be in his age-37 season of 2013. However, players with lifetime walk rates of 15.5%, with strikeout rates of 16.6%, do not grow on trees. Berkman’s role will be to get on base, and slug for some occasional power. That’s it. In 2013, having lost Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton — two of Texas’s best sluggers — the Rangers need as many players on base as possible. Berkman is that guy.
If this deal happens to materialize, the lineup figures to look something like this:
1. Kinsler – 1B
2. Andrus – SS
3. Berkman – DH
4. Beltre – 3B
5. Cruz – RF
6. Murphy – LF
7. Pierzynski – C
8. Profar – 2B
9. Martin – CF
The chips are going to continue falling, but Lance Berkman would be a major step in the right direction, which directly leads to a 3rd AL West title in 4 years.