Lance Berkman – Good choice or bust


May 18, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman (27) hits an RBI double during the sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Lance Berkman, who will be 38 next year, is now a free agent.  No one is surprised to see that on October 31, the Texas Rangers declined the $12 million option to keep him.  Instead, the Texas Rangers will pay $1 million to buyout his contract.

Berkman earlier this year contemplated on retirement after another knee injury, and will likely retire now, although it isn’t official yet.  Berkman did manage to come back at the end of the 2013 season, but when he return in September he went hitless over 12 at-bats over the 5 games he appeared in.

If you don’t remember, Lance Berkman injured his knee back in June when he fell down the stairs while leaving the Texas Rangers charter plane.

Now that Berkman is gone, what was his impact on the club during his stay?  When the 2013 season started, the 37 year old slugger appeared to be having one of his best seasons yet.  For the month of April he was red hot with a .319 batting average, .449 on base average and .936 on base plus slugging.   With constant playing time, the main question was, will Berkman hold up.  Berkman had a major knee injury in April 2012 which caused him to miss most of the season with 3 stints the disabled list and he wasn’t able to play in postseason with the Cardinals.

After Lance Berkman had his hot April, he slowly declined in May, and after his mishap on the airplane, he wasn’t able to repeat that magic.

Berkman had the promise of filling some of the void left by Josh Hamilton, but with questions of his health, many Rangers fans knew he wouldn’t be doing that.

One question is, if Berkman was used less early in the season, would he have been able to produce at the end of the season.  Ron Washington should have limited his play during April and May, and kept the slugger healthy for the second half of the season.  No one knew though there would be a freak accident to take him out.  The airplane stair accident will probably force him to retire.

Was Berkman good for the club?  Overall, yes, he managed to play in 72 games, and finished the season with a batting average of .242, on base average .340, slugging .359 and on base plus slugging of .700.  Berkman did help the Rangers start off another season very hot with his help.  Also, Berkman managed to play more than twice the number of games he played in last year.   Jon Daniels was probably a bit hopeful though that Berkman had one good year left in him, and he was almost right.  Maybe it was the injury this year, or just the impact of previous injuries, but Berkman wasn’t able to have the season neither Daniels or him wished to have.