If you tuned out when the Rangers led 7-5 in the ninth, you missed quite a finish
It was the best worst World Series game—or perhaps the worst best World Series game—I've ever seen. Four and a half hours, 11 innings, 42 players, 19 runs, 23 men left on base, six home runs, five errors, two final-strike comebacks, a handful of bad relief performances, some managerial howlers including a cardinal (not Cardinal) sin… and it all ended with the much-maligned Joe Buck giving a fitting nod to history by emulating one of his father's most famous calls. As David Freese's game-winning blast landed in the grass beyond the center field wall of Busch Stadium, Buck exclaimed, "We'll see you tomorrow night!" Game Six of the 2011 World Series will be remembered as a classic—a Game Six that can sit alongside those of 1975, 1986, and 1991, among maybe a couple others—as the Cardinals staved off elimination to beat the Rangers 10-9, forcing a Game Seven.
With All-Star selection around the corner, the BP staff fills out their ballots for who deserves to start in the Midsummer Classic.
It’s July, and that means another All-Star Game, one which—we might as well get this out of the way now—won’t be as exciting as those wonderful old All-Star Games when important things happened, like Ted Williams breaking his elbow and Dizzy Dean breaking a toe (Williams said he was never the same hitter; Dean destroyed his arm with altered mechanics) and Ray Fosse getting run over because damn it, Pete Rose just had to win an exhibition game.
(It is at times like these that I like to recall Mickey Mantle’s immortal words on the subject of Rose: “If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete, I’d wear a dress.”)
Rumors of Lance Berkman's demise may have been greatly exaggerated, but it would be equally unwise to put too much stock in his recovery.
In a season more notable for star players off to slow starts and a league-wide offensive malaise, the way Lance Berkman has scalded the ball at the outset of his Cardinals career is nothing less than shocking. Not only was he hitting .390/.461/.750 through Tuesday in a league averaging only .250/.320/.388, but he was doing so after a 2010 season that saw him reduced from perennial All-Star status to ineffectual part-time work with the Yankees.
There was plenty of reason to think that Berkman’s posterior was ready to have the proverbial fork stuck in it. Thirty-four years old last year, Berkman lost the beginning of the season to knee surgery, and when he returned his bat didn’t have the life that had produced career .299/.412/.555 rates through the end of 2009. He endured painful slumps such as a mid-June stretch of 10 games in which he went 6-for-36 with 13 strikeouts, his problems hitting left-handers, a career-long problem for this switch-hitter, became extreme, and a power stroke that had produced as many as 55 doubles and 45 home runs in a season seemed to have weakened.
The Berkman acquired by the Yankees was bloated, slow, and indecisive both at the plate and in the field, a far cry from the athlete who was capable of taking regular turns in center field in his mid-20s. Hitters tend to have a fairly linear evolution to their careers—normally, when they start to go, they don’t come back. Berkman’s physical deterioration, combined with his miserable results in New York (.255/.358/.349, one home run in 123 plate appearances) seemed to suggest that the Cardinals’ plan to sign him and give him regular playing time in an outfield corner ranked somewhere between foolishly optimistic and delusional.
Lance Berkman reminds Astros fans that he wears big shoes, but Brett Wallace may be capable of filling them; Alfonso Soriano rarely gets on base but often drives himself in.
It was an eye-opening week in Minute Maid Park, as Zod and the other residents of Planet Houston were treated to superb performances from first basemen of the Astros' past, present, and—perhaps—future.
Lance Berkman, the twelve-year Astros veteran who was traded to the Yankees late last year before signing with the Cardinals over the winter, made his return to Houston as a visiting player on Tuesday. He was well-received by the fans, who gave him an extended standing ovation in his first at-bat. When he laced a single to right field off of an inside fastball from Bud Norris, the crowd erupted into more cheers. Needless to say, the man with the second-most home runs in franchise history is still very popular in the Bayou City.
A look at the hitters whose True Average fell sharply from one season to the next and how they fared the following season.
Lance Berkman had a down year. I know that isn’t exactly earth-shattering news, but he did not perform up to the level we have come to expect given his career numbers. At 34 years old, he is unlikely to continue to hit like he did in the early part of his career, but his 2010 numbers paled in comparison to those produced a year ago, when he hit .274/.399/.509 with a .314 TAv. In 2010, Berkman put up a .288 TAv while hitting .248/.368/.413. Though his season was plagued by injuries, he managed a mere 14 home runs, and that slash line looks strange when attached to his name. The numbers were not terrible, but rather different, considering that he has never posted a BA below .274, an OBP below .386, an SLG below .509, or a TAv below .300.