Give It To Me, Lance

Berkman
The Rangers were basically only able to sign Lance Berkman back in January because they gave him 11 million reasons not to retire. He again flirted with retirement just a few months later in July, when he became frustrated by nagging injuries causing him to perform well below expectations. But once again, he decided to remain a Ranger instead of putting his baseball career out to pasture.
At this point, Berkman’s amazing revival season in 2011 (.301/.412/.547, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 3.7 WAR) seems more like 20 years ago than just two. His numbers so far this season (.248/.347/.368, 6 HR, 34 RBI) are so far below his career averages, they even include a WAR that only Bluto from Animal House could love (say it all together, now: “ZERO. POINT. ZERO.”).

No, it wasn’t over when “the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor,” and it’s not over now. But with the Rangers in such a deep team-wide hitting slump heading into the season’s final 16 games that even the always-dependable Adrian Beltre has gone cold at the plate, they find themselves in urgent need of a consistent offensive jolt.

That jolt won’t come from Nelson Cruz until the playoffs – at the earliest – and more likely not until spring training, if his teammates’ bats don’t come alive ASAP. Relying upon a three-headed DH rotation of Jurickson Profar, Jim Adduci and Joey Butler doesn’t seem to be a likely recipe for success, given how many more career minor league at-bats that trio has than trips to the batter’s box in the bigs.

So, where can the Rangers find that bat they so desperately need right now?

Berkman certainly hasn’t shown much, if anything, this year to indicate he’s that bat. But he certainly owes it to his team and their fans to step up and try to start delivering at a level closer to what the Rangers thought they were getting when they signed him.

If Berkman can just bookend this season with a hot streak at the end of it similar to the one he posted at its start (.319/.449/.486 with 15 RBI for the month of April), that could be just the catalyst this team needs to propel it into the postseason. Sure it’s a long shot, but he’s done it before – and it wasn’t all that long ago. Stranger things have happened…

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or  on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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