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An Update on Berkman's Return

Before Lance Berkman returned from knee surgery, I wrote an article speculating on how fast we should expect him to return to his normal offensive form.  Because we already had experience with Berkman returning from knee surgery in May, 2005, that article examined how much time was required for Berkman to starting hitting well after he returned in 2005.  In 2005, Berkman's sluggish early offense seemed to bottom out at Game 15 or 16 (May 23 - 24, 2005).  Since Berkman's offense has erupted in the past few games, I thought it would be interesting to update the offensive recovery path between 2005 and 2010. 

Let's start off with a summary based on today, which is Game 22 of his recovery.  Currently Berkman's slash line is: .253, .364, .493, .857.   For Game 22 in 2005 (May 31): .234, .337, .325, .662.  Coincidently, the Houston Chronicle published it's famous tombstone the next day, which apparently was a reverse-jinx for that 2005 team.  The 2005 injury was more serious than what Berkman faced this year; so I'm not surprised if his offense is recovering more quickly now.

Some examples of the pattern can be seen by his OPS at various points after his return:

(2005 OPS / 2010 OPS)

5 Games .318 / .616

10 Games .611 / .782

15 Games .564 / .678

20 Games .648 / .725

22 Games .662 / .857

Other offensive comparisons between Berkman's 2005 and 2010 start to his season. 

(2005 / 2010)

First HR: Game 7 / Game 6

RBIs at Game 22: 6 / 12

Ks thru Game 22: 15 / 18

BBs thru Game 22: 12 / 13

HRs thru Game 22: 1 / 4

Multi-Hit Games, Gm 17 - 22: 3 / 3

The last item, above, shows that Berkman started to raise his batting average with a flurry of multi-hit games between the game 17 and 22 in 2005, just as Berkman has posted an even better flurry of such games for that period in 2010.  For the month of June 2005 (which began with Game 23), Berkman's OPS was .966.  I would definitely take that from Berkman over the next 30 days.  These comparisons don't necessarily prove anything--other than showing that Berkman's offense has recovered faster than it did in 2005.

Berkman's current wOBA stands at .371, and Berkman ended the season in 2005 with a .399 wOBA.  Berkman returned earlier in 2010 than he did in 2005.  Considering that Berkman will have about 12 more games than he did in 2005 to "offset" his early poor start, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that he can end the season with a .400 w/OBA.  That would be .06 higher than the ZIPS updated projection for Berkman, but the projection business is far from exact.  Whether Berkman can end up with a 4 WAR may depend on how his defense at first base fares by the end of the season.  So far, Berkman's DRS is +1, which isn't very meaningful at the current sample size, but if that were to continue, it would make a 4+ WAR season feasible.

What do you think Berkman's offensive statistics will look like at the end of this season?