In the ninth inning of Thursday’s loss to Colorado, Lance Berkman hit a grounder to second base and barely made it halfway down the first base line. He appeared to tweak his troublesome right knee as he stumbled out of the batter’s box. Today, the Cardinals had no choice but to place him on the disabled list for the third time this season. The likelihood of Fat Elvis regaining full strength in his knee this season continues to decrease with each recurring visit to the trainer’s room. It is an unfortunate turn of events for a player who was an integral part of last season’s World Series-winning team. During that magical year, which was Lance’s 13th big league season, Big Puma posted a .412 OBP and blasted 31 home runs while playing in 145 games, mostly as the team’s right fielder. He was expected to fill the vacancy left at first base this season by the departed Albert Pujols, but Lance has battled injuries while only playing in 28 games. He now has more trips to the disabled list this year than home runs.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, they have another first baseman on the roster who has stepped up in a big way. Not many baseball fans had heard of Allen Craig before this season, largely due to a lack of playing time. In 200 at-bats last season, Craig posted an impressive .315/.362/.555 batting line and hit 11 home runs, prompting hitting coach Mark McGwire to gush over the 28-year-old slugger.
“Allen Craig is, gosh … to see Allen Craig and David Freese have a full year of 500, 600 at-bats in a full year, it’s going to be exciting,” McGwire said. “Allen Craig is a pure RBI guy. He has a knack for hitting. He just has it. It’s just a matter of him getting a chance to play on an everyday basis. He proved that this year.”
In 2012, Allen Craig is getting that chance. In his 241 at-bats this year, Craig has posted a .297/.362/.556 batting line while mashing 15 home runs. Cardinals fans need not worry about Fat Elvis as long as Allen Craig stays healthy. All he needs now is a sweet nickname.
About the Author
Written by David Gorsky
I'm a lifelong sports fan with a particular interest in baseball. I'm a proponent of using SABRmetrics to find a player's true value. I recently graduated from the University of Virginia and I'm ready to start my career in sports media. I can be reached at davidgorsky(at)outlook.com.