Fat Elvis has left the building
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Former Houston Astros slugger Lance Berkman, a.k.a. "Fat Elvis" and "Big Puma," confirmed his retirement from playing baseball this week.

Berkman played for four different teams, but will always be known for his time with the Astros. He was a six-time All-Star and six times finished among the top-10 in MVP voting.

For fantasy owners he was a two-position eligible player (1B, OF), a consistent source of power, hitting at least 20 homers 11 times, and a runs- producer, who could also hit for a solid batting average.

That covers most of the fantasy offensive categories ... except for speed, of which he had little. Still, one season he did steal 18 bases (2008).

What was best about Berkman is that you could count on him playing every day. In his Houston heyday, he played 150 or more games in seven of eight seasons. It helped that he was a switch-hitter, no platooning for this guy.

In his early years he was part of the "Killer B's" - the trio that included Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.

Biggio just missed getting into the Hall of Fame this year, falling two votes shy of enshrinement. A member of the 3,000 hit club, he figures to get in eventually.

Bagwell also put up solid fantasy and real world numbers during his 15-year career, but appears destined to come up just short of Hall of Fame entry, partially due to rumors of chemically-enhanced performance.

Which leads us back to Berkman. Is "Fat Elvis" worthy of a spot in the Hall of Fame?

Probably not.

But for us the real question is whether he was a fantasy Hall of Famer?

His .943 OPS (27th all-time) was elite and 144 wRC+ (47th all-time) was also among the best all-time.

Berkman finished his career with 1,905 hits, 366 home runs, 1,146 runs scored, 1,234 RBIs, and 86 stolen bases. Most of the damage was done from 2001-2008 after which nagging injuries held him below his normal production.

Those are good numbers, particularly in that eight-year stretch from '01-'08, but not great statistics. He had just one quality season after that (2011 - .301, 90 runs, 31 HR, 94 RBI, .959 OPS).

His offensive numbers are similar to those of a guy like outfielder Jim Edmonds, though Edmonds was a fantastic center fielder.

Berkman was a very good player, better with a bat in his hand than his glove, which improves his chances in the fantasy world as most leagues don't worry about defense.

But in my opinion he comes up just short of fantasy greatness.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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