Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Berkman's a beast

A few thoughts on the monster season Lance Berkman is having ...

The Astros slugger ranks first in the league in homers (13), runs scored (42), doubles (16), total bases (112), slugging (.800) and OPS (1.207) and second in batting (.393), RBIs (38), OBP (.470) and hits (55).

In other words, he's been awesome.

Berkman's always been a bit of an underrated player, beginning with his days as an apprentice member of Houston's famed Killer B's, where he played the baseball equivalent of Shemp to the Moe-Larry-Curly trio of Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Derek Bell.

But Berkman's been a steady producer for almost a decade: career .303 hitter in 10 seasons, averaging 35 homers and 116 RBIs a year. Last year's numbers took a bit of a dip (.278 average, his lowest in a full season, and 34 homers after 45 the year before), but you can chalk a lot of that up to a very cold April. That obviously hasn't been the case this year, and it's helped having a rejuvenated (but steroid-free, I'm sure) Miguel Tejada added to the heart of the Houston lineup.

Here's the best part about Berkman's career year, at least for me. I own him in my main league, and he's kept me in contention all season long. The funny thing is he went unprotected in our 10-team keeper league (we could keep five players), and then lasted until the sixth pick in the redraft, which essentially meant he was the 56th player taken. Not bad value for a guy who I expect to finish the season among the top five offensive fantasy players.

You could consider dealing Berkman now while he's red-hot, but like I said, I'm not expecting a huge fall-off in production for such a proven hitter. The only way a trade makes sense is if you swap him for an elite player or two at a position more scarce than 1B/OF (I'm talking Hanley Ramirez/Chase Utley territory here). Otherwise, keep enjoying the ride.

I know I will.

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