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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Lance Berkman

Eligible in 2019

DL from MN Posted: January 11, 2018 at 02:39 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. DL from MN Posted: January 12, 2018 at 10:08 AM (#5605342)
The last of the Killer B's to become eligible
   2. Jaack Posted: January 12, 2018 at 11:18 AM (#5605385)
I expect Berkman to slot in in the 3-5 range on my ballot. His bat looks at least as good, if not better than Vlad. Good first baseman and a decent outfield in his younger years. Adequate baserunner.

Shorter career but he was an elite hitter for nearly all of it.
   3. Bleed the Freak Posted: January 17, 2018 at 06:27 PM (#5608416)
Lance Berkman might have a hill to climb with the default setting often being Baseball-Reference context neutral WAR, where he falls a bit shy/borderline of HOM level (99.5 rating at Adam Darowski's Hall of Stats).

Baseball Reference at 51.7 WAR, 38.9 WAR7
Baseball Gauge at 53.9 WAR, 38.5 WAR7
Kiko's W-L at 32.8 2/3 p, 1/3 e wins, ~57 translated WAR.

He adds ~ 2 WAR and 1 championship probability (cWPA) in his illustrious post-season career.

Contextual measures:
Neutral 468 runs, 565 RE24, or ~8.5 wins; +1.6 clutch score.

Lance will be in the running for a lower third ballot spot and is personal hall of merit.
   4. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 17, 2018 at 07:00 PM (#5608425)
If you like postseason credit, Berkman should come in for some of that. By Championship Probability Added (WPA weighted for game importance), he is third all-time among hitters, trailing only Mantle and Rose. (You can take or leave the specific metric as you will, but he was really good in October either way; he just did it in a way that seems to have almost been designed to avoid notice.)

I've written about Berkman's October heroics in a few threads around these parts but am having trouble finding one now, so I'll link this instead:

Lance Berkman: Stealth October Superstar
   5. Bleed the Freak Posted: December 18, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5909673)
From the 2020 ballot, post 17:

"Berkman is somewhere around #30-#40 for me. Bat-only corner outfielders need to dominate their league to get much interest from me - I've never voted for Indian Bob Johnson, for example. In historical context he looks much like Sam Thompson, whom many have decried as one of our "mistakes". Sosa, Abreu, and Cravath are well ahead of him; Bobby Bonds is about even.

Is he really a bat-only corner outfielder?
Besides his below average center field performance, his numbers suggest a league average defender, despite his lumbering appearance, he was no Adam Dunn.

I'm one of this best supporters, with a down-ballot placement and PHOM.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: December 21, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5910323)
yeah, Berkman is a bit better than "bat only"."
   7. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 09, 2020 at 07:08 AM (#5914084)
I watched his whole career and I'm sticking to "bat-only". He wasn't a Dunn or Luzinski out there, but he certainly wasn't an asset either.

If you cut out Jack Clark's age 19-21 seasons (b/c Berkman didn't make his MLB debut until age 23), he and Berkman have nearly identical statistics and player profiles. I don't see anyone putting Clark in elect-me positions or their pHoM.
   8. Jaack Posted: January 09, 2020 at 08:42 AM (#5914091)
Jack Clark Batting runs: 358.9
Top 10 seasons

Lance Berkman batting runs: 433.4
Top 10 seasons
   9. Jaack Posted: January 09, 2020 at 08:57 AM (#5914092)
Berkman has about 75 batting runs more in 400 fewer PAs. Clark also had serious in season durability issues while Berkman in his prime was among the more durable players in baseball. Add in Berkman's superior postseason numbers and he's well ahead hitting-wise.

Berkman wasn't pretty on defense, but metrics generally agree he was okay in left or right and possibly an asset on first. Clark wasn't much worse in the outfield, but I don't think he was any more than average at first.
   10. Chris Cobb Posted: January 09, 2020 at 09:02 AM (#5914093)
It's a good point that Lance Berkman and Jack Clark's career numbers are similar, and it can be a useful check point in our evaluations to step back and look at that.

However (and I say this as someone who sees Berkman as a little bit overrated by the electorate), there's a very significant difference in the way Berkman's and Clark's value is distributed because Clark was subject to such an injury bug throughout his career.

Clark only has 3 seasons with 150 games played, while Berkman has 7. Clark therefore lacks the "big seasons" that are critical to Berkman's candidacy.

Berkman top seasons by bWAR: 6.9, 6.5, 6.0, 6.0, 5.3
Clark top seasons by bWAR: 5.9, 5.4, 4.7, 4.6*, 4.0

*1981 WAR adjusted to 162 game season.

In this regard, Berkman is significantly stronger than Clark: there's no question which of these players contributed more value to his team, and I think most voters place significant weight on seasonal value above replacement in peak seasons.

The problem with saying that Clark and Berkman have highly similar career totals, so why Berkman but not Clark, is that career value is not the salient feature of either's career. Both are marginal candidates by career WAR. In general, a player needs 60 career WAR to be an obvious HoMer, and low-peak players in the 60's may not make it. 55-60 is borderline. The number of players below 55 WAR (where Clark and Berkman are) who've been elected are few, and they are players with strong peaks. Berkman has a strong peak. Luckily for him, that peak doesn't depend on fielding value to be rated as such, so pretty much every voter who looks at peak agrees that Berkman has one, especially if one doesn't require peak to be consecutive. Therefore, he is attracting support. Clark doesn't have a comparable peak, so he isn't attracting support from the large swath of voters who value peak.

The impact of the injuries is dramatic. Clark was playing great in 1984. If he had maintained that quality of play for 150 games instead of suffering a season-ending injury after 57 games, he adds a 6.5 WAR season to his resume in place of an average looking 2.5. Take away tine 1986 injury, and 1.6 WAR becomes 3.7. Take away the 1980 injury, and 4.7 becomes 5.6. Take away the strike (for those who don't give strike credit), and 3.1 becomes 4.6. "No major injuries, no strike Jack Clark" becomes a player with 62.2 career bWAR and a peak season line of

Healthy Clark top seasons by bWAR: 6.5, 5.9, 5.6, 5.4, 4.6.

Not quite as good as Berkman, but he's also added nearly 10 points of career WAR, which moves him ahead of Berkman there substantially and into the "usually elected" career range. "Healthy Clark" has a career profile that's more similar to Bobby Abreu, who, like Berkman, is on track for election in a backlog year.

Healthy, prime Jack Clark is a HoM-quality player. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough of healthy, prime Jack Clark in Clark's career for him to be a viable candidate.

Berkman has just enough peak that he's got a good shot at election from the backlog. He's a little bit overrated because his peak is mainly based on offense, but he's still a viable candidate.

(Also, comparing Clark to Berkman via batting runs overrates Berkman, because his offensive environment was so much higher than Clark's. By offernsive wins in bWAR, they are very close for their careers. Clark has 54.6, Berkman has 54.1. It's the shape of their careers more than their offensive prowess that really differentiates these two candidates, at least in the bWAR workshop.)
   11. The Honorable Ardo Posted: January 09, 2020 at 10:07 AM (#5914102)
The problem with saying that Clark and Berkman have highly similar career totals, so why Berkman but not Clark, is that career value is not the salient feature of either's career.
And you're right; to an extent, I was being a "devil's advocate" with post #7.

Even I don't rank them as exact equivalents. I have Berkman about 25th and Clark about 60th for the reasons others have mentioned - Berkman's superior in-season durability, and postseason credit.
   12. kwarren Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:13 AM (#5918242)
Is anybody familiar with the way that BBRef incorporates Offensive War & Defensive War. Total WAR is not the sum of these two values, usually quite a bit lower. What is the difference between total WAR and the sum of Defensive + Offensive War.
   13. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 22, 2020 at 11:19 AM (#5918249)
Is anybody familiar with the way that BBRef incorporates Offensive War & Defensive War. Total WAR is not the sum of these two values, usually quite a bit lower. What is the difference between total WAR and the sum of Defensive + Offensive War.

Both oWAR and dWAR include the positional adjustment. They're kind of measuring different things (and dWAR is mis-named). The premise of oWAR is "How valuable would this guy be if he was an average fielder?" - the idea is this would be one's starting point if one wanted to substitute in one's own fielding numbers.

The premise of dWAR is to be able to compare players at different fielding positions - "How much better (if any) is a bad-fielding shortstop than a good-fielding first baseman?" dWAR equals the positional adjustment plus fielding runs - both of which are calculated relative to average, so this should really be called dWAA - which would have the added benefit of making it more obvious that WAR <> oWAR + dWAR.
   14. snowdogjrr Posted: March 27, 2020 at 01:30 PM (#5934086)
Any ideas of how Berkman's career would have ended up had he not been a switch hitter? In other words, even given the disadvantage of batting lefty against a LHP, would he have had a better career? The numbers are extreme enough for him as a righty that it seems like making a permanent switch to left handed batting could have been advantageous.

From a purely visual standpoint, it sure did look like he was way less comfortable from the right side and seemed to "hack" at pitches a lot more from the right side.

Interesting article here on the value of switch hitting vs. not switch hitting:
Berkman is specifically mentioned in a group of players potentially being better off from not switch hitting.

It is fascinating to think what Berkman's career could have been if he had hit strictly from the left side.

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