A pair of iconic Texas baseball players retired this past week. Like I do any time notable players retire, I wanted to take the “Hall of Fame” aspect of the discussion and run with it. So, are Lance Berkman and Michael Young Hall-worthy?
Let’s start with Berkman, since his announcement came first. I’ve always liked Berkman. As a non-Astros fan who moved to Houston in the post-Bagwell/Biggio years, Berkman was easily always the most fun player on the team to root for. His key role on the 2011 Cardinals only cemented that image of him for me.
It’s still easy to overlook just how dominant his run in the 2000s was, though. From 2001 to 2008, he had an OPS+ over 150 five times, with an overall OPS+ of 151 in that time span. His best mark, though, was his 164 mark in that 2011 season, something that will probably irk Houston fans a little (although four times in Houston, he fell between 160 and 163). The man could flat-out hit.
His 366 home runs rank fourth for a switch hitter, behind only Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, and Chipper Jones (and 76th all-time). On top of that, he managed a solid 422 doubles. His 1905 hits may seem uninspiring, but he reached base another 1201 times via the walk. It all added up to a .293/.406/.537 batting line, making him one of only 25 players with a .290/.400/.500 line in 6000 at bats. It also adds up to a career 144 OPS+ in fifteen seasons, 44th best all-time. It ties him with, among others, Hack Wilson, a Hall of Famer that he compares well with.