Lance Berkman

From Academic Kids

William Lance Berkman (born February 10, 1976 in Waco, Texas) is a Major League Baseball player for the Houston Astros. His official listed height is six feet, one inch, and his weight is 220 pounds. Berkman is a switch-hitting outfielder/first baseman who throws left-handed.


Amateur Career

Lance Berkman attended high school in New Braunfels, TX. A promising first baseman, he agreed to attend Rice University and play baseball. He set multiple records at Rice, including season and career records for runs scored, RBI, home runs, and slugging percentage. Over his three years at Rice, his batting average was .385, he hit 67 HR with 272 RBI. He so impressed the home team Houston Astros, they selected him with the sixteenth pick in the first round of the 1997 MLB Amateur Draft. All told, when Berkman left Rice, he was 1997 College Player of the Year, and named an All-American by three different sports publications.

Minor League Career

After the Astros drafted Berkman, the team assigned him to play with their "A" minor league affiliate, Kissimmee. In only 53 games, he hit .293 with 12 HR and 35 RBI. In 1998, his second minor league season, he was promoted to class "AA" Jackson. His potential was beginning to show, as he hit .306 and clubbed 24 HR with 89 RBI over 122 games. The Astros took notice, and, they granted him a mid-season promotion to "AAA" New Orleans Zephyrs. He played 17 games in New Orleans, and 1998 would prove to be his last full season in the minor leagues. In 1999, Berkman was midway through a great season in New Orleans when he was called up to the parent club, the Houston Astros. Prior to the promotion, he had been hitting a robust .323, although he only had 8 HR and 49 RBI through 64 games.

Major League Career

Thoughout his entire high school, college, and minor league career, Berkman played first base. Since the Astros had All-Star first baseman Jeff Bagwell already entrenched as the starter, Berkman agreed to play outfield (Left field specifically) in order to get playing time. His first stint in the MLB ended with 34 games played, a .237 batting average, 4 HR and 15 RBI. The slow start did not discourage him, although he started the 2000 season back in "AAA" New Orleans.

His time in the minors would be short-lived, however. 31 games through the season, Houston again requested his services, and Berkman showed the club why they had used their first round pick on him. Moving from left field to right field, he hit .297, 21 HR and 67 RBI. This firmly established him in the Astros lineup, and he has been a starter since.

2001 was a tremedous season, even after moving back to left field. Berkman hit at a .331 average, good for 4th in the National League. His .430 On-base percentage placed him fifth in the league. He also scored 110 runs, hit 34 home runs, and drove in 126 runs (7th in league). His 55 doubles is a to-date personal best, and led the league. 2001 also marked his first All-Star appearance (he would repeat in 2002 and 2004) and he was fifth in Most Valuable Player voting.

With the Astros shuffling their roster around before the 2002 season, Berkman agreed to play center field. Although he is not a pure athlete like most center fielders, he generally made a good read on balls hit to him in the outfield and made very few mistakes. 2002 saw his batting average drop to .292, although he kept his on-base percentage high at .405. His power output increased also, resulting in 42 home runs, another to-date career high. Berkman scored 106 runs and drove in 128, good enough to lead the league. As a result, he was third in the NL in the Most Valuable Player voting for 2002.

2003 brought about Berkman's worst season since becoming a regular. His batting average dipped to .288, although his on-base percentage was still high at .412. He hit 25 home runs, and only drove in 93 runs, scoring 110 himself. In the field, he played all but one game in Left field.

The next season, 2004, saw him bounce back at the plate. His average was up to .316, and his OBP was .450, due to the fact that he walked 127 times. He hit 30 home runs, drove in 106, and scored 104 runs. He also hit 40 doubles and appeared in 160 games, the most so far in his career for a single season. He split his time in the field between left and right field. made the All-Star team, and was runner up in the 2004 home run derby with 21 homers. In 2005, he moved over to first base when Jeff Bagwell was put on the 15-Day DL.

Significant Statistics

Note: All stats are as of the end of the 2004 season.

  • Career: 775 games, .303 BA, 156 HR, 535 RBI, 516 R, .416 OBP
  • Three time All-Star (2001, 2002, 2004)
  • 20th among active players in batting average (.303)
  • 4th among active players (23rd all-time) in on-base percentage (.416)
  • 9th among active players (18th all-time) in slugging percentage (.563)
  • Led NL in doubles (55) in 2001.
  • Led NL in RBI (128) in 2002.

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