Lance Berkman will have an MRI today to confirm that he has torn the ACL in his right knee.— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) May 21, 2012
Berkman hurt himself stretching for a throw from shortstop Rafael Furcal during yesterday's Cardianls/Dodgers tilt, something evidently went pop, and it sounds like that might be the end of that. Berkman was reportedly contemplating retirement as of last night, and assuming that he did actually blow out his knee, you kind of figure that this might be the end of the line, since climbing all the way back to the majors after such a catastrophic injury doesn't seem to be the kind of intensive commitment that Berkman is inclined to make at this late stage of his career. He's got his money, he's got his ring, he's got his accolades. He's already 36 years old. He could pull a Rivera and embark upon a lengthy journey to keep that big league flame going, but I'm not betting on it.
If this is the end of the line, we'll be saying goodbye to one of the better hitters of our generation, and one of the great switch-hitters of our time ... from 1999-2012, Berkman hit .296/.409/.546 with a 146 wRC+, and, on a wRC+ basis, ranked as the ninth-best qualifying hitter in baseball over that period, behind only Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire, Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, Jason Giambi, and Alex Rodriguez. I don't think there's quite enough there to justify serious Hall of Fame candidacy, but I figure he'll be somebody who at least merits some serious -- as opposed to snarky or joking -- discussion when the time comes for that discussion, and somebody who will net a respectable number of votes and hang around on the ballot for quiteTt a while.
Although, if the BBWAA remains dug in on the matter of excluding confirmed/suspected PED users from Cooperstown, they're going to have to put somebody in. And if that remains the case, and the pool of electable players is narrowed to such a degree, then Berkman's HOF candidacy is going to enjoy an appreciable boost. Couple that with the continued lowering of the bar for inclusion (e.g. Jim Rice), and maybe Berkman does have enough in the tank to make a serious Cooperstown push, even if there's not enough left in the tank for a return to the playing field.