On The Road To Redemption

signing
What is the first thing that comes to mind for you when you see Lance Berkman’s voluptuous face? Is it that he is a Texan? Do you wonder what he stores in his jowl? It’s probably more along the lines of this:

“I felt like if they didn’t re-sign Cliff Lee that they were going to be an average team and I feel that’s probably what’s going to end up happening. It’s all about your pitching. I feel like last year was one of those special years where you kind of catch lightning in a bottle and they got hot and they had some guys that I felt like were pitching better than their talent level and consequently they had a great year.”

Or this…

“They were itching to spend some money. I probably could have gotten the best deal out of them, especially in light of what they gave Adrian Beltre, which I think is pretty much a reach for him.”

Or, if you’re like me, it’s this:

Picture

Either way you slice it, it can’t be a completely welcome sight for Rangers’ fans to see the Big Puma. Not only did he rebuke the Rangers in 2011, but he also helped dash their hopes of winning their first World Series whilst helping St. Louis win their 11th title.

My buddy Mike McGehee has already wrote about what he thinks Berkman will dofor the 2013 Texas Rangers, but will it be enough to win those fickle fans’ hearts?

What does Berkman need to do to win your heart?

I’m sure if he duplicated his 2011 numbers (.301/.412/.547/3.3rWAR, 4.9fWAR), that would make the majority of fans ecstatic. Fangraphs projects Berkman to play in 127 games with a line of .274/.379/.467 with 2.2. fWAR. With his salary at $10M this season, that would be solid value. Of course, Berkman is now 37 and declined production is to be expected, but he has never had a home ballpark that would be considered “hitter-friendly.” In 2011, Busch Stadium ranked 25th out of 30 according to ESPN, and Minute Maid Park has been routinely ranked in the 20s for his career. In 2012, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington ranked fourth only behind Coors, U.S. Cellular and Fenway.

Fans should expect Berkman to remind them (from a production standpoint) of 2008 Milton Bradley (minus the attitude) more than 2012 Michael Young — switch-hitting, patient hitter that will provide pop in the middle of the lineup. Bradley’s season-high in homeruns was 22…in what year? That’s right, 2008. Berkman belted 31 in 2011 and there is no reason to not expect 25 this season as long as he stays healthy (Fangraphs says 20).

My expectations: .290/.385/.500 with 25 HR, 90 RBI and 175 hotdogs consumed.

By the end of the year, I also expect to have at least half a dozen fond memories of 2013 Lance Berkman to help erase the above image.   

Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and Junior Staff Writer for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook 

Eddie Middlebrook
Eddie Middlebrook is Senior Writer for @ballparkbanter9 and @shutdowninning. Formerly with @wfaasports and @FoxSportsSW. @IBWAA member. Eddie can be found on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

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