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Game Hero, 70 - 71

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Lance Berkman
  • 3 for 3, BB, 4 RBI
  • 2 homers, single
  • Put the biggest hurting on Ohka, and for that, we salute him

With five extra base hits and 8 RBI over his last three games, Berkman appears to have started the finishing kick for what still might end up as the greatest offensive season by raw numbers in Astros history.

Where Berkman's 2006 Season Stands Right Now
Top Nine Astro Home Run Seasons
Year Player HR
2000 Jeff Bagwell 47
2000 Richard Hidalgo 44
1997 Jeff Bagwell 43
2002 Lance Berkman 42
1999 Jeff Bagwell 42
2001 Jeff Bagwell 39
1994 Jeff Bagwell 39
2003 Jeff Bagwell 39
2006 Lance Berkman 39
Top Ten Astro RBI Seasons
Year Player RBI
1997 Jeff Bagwell 135
2000 Jeff Bagwell 132
2001 Jeff Bagwell 130
2002 Lance Berkman 128
1999 Jeff Bagwell 126
2001 Lance Berkman 126
1998 Moises Alou 124
2000 Richard Hidalgo 122
1996 Jeff Bagwell 120
2006 Lance Berkman 120
Top Ten Astro OBP Seasons
Year Player OBP
1999 Jeff Bagwell .454
1994 Jeff Bagwell .451
1996 Jeff Bagwell .451
2004 Lance Berkman .450
1969 Jimmy Wynn .436
2001 Lance Berkman .430
1997 Jeff Bagwell .425
2000 Jeff Bagwell .424
1998 Jeff Bagwell .424
2006 Lance Berkman .417
Top Five Astro ISO Seasons
Year Player ISO
1994 Jeff Bagwell .383
2000 Richard Hidalgo .323
2006 Lance Berkman .308
1997 Jeff Bagwell .306
2000 Jeff Bagwell .305
Top Five Astro SLG Seasons
Year Player SLG
1994 Jeff Bagwell .750
2000 Richard Hidalgo .636
2000 Moises Alou .623
2001 Lance Berkman .620
2006 Lance Berkman .620

Yes, it's true that these numbers are not adjusted for eras, and yes, it's true that only now is Lance Berkman beginning to deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with Jeff Bagwell, but no matter, 2006 has been a whale of a season for an almost ridiculously talented offensive force weighed down by the many mediocre hitters around him.

You ever read "Harrison Bergeron?" It's a story about life in the year 2081 by Kurt Vonnegut. In 2081, people "are finally equal" because the government makes those who are possessed of talents or beauties wear handicaps that drag them down to the depressed and dreary human baseline. Those who are not born average are forced to become so by the government. And the way the story goes, our hero Harrison is possessed of a ton of talents. He's smarter and stronger and more agile than anyone around him, and for that reason the government has piled the handicaps onto him. Here is our first look at Harrison:

The rest of Harrison's appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever borne heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.

Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.

And to offset his good looks, the H-G men required that. he wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggletooth random.

Point is, sometimes when I think of Lance Berkman hitting in the middle of this lineup, I think of the purposely stunted glory of Harrison Bergeron.
****

Second place is pretty sweet when you've spent most of your summer in third.