St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman will be out eight to ten weeks after surgery to repair his torn meniscus this morning. Although Berkman will be out until, likely, August, the good news is that he did not suffer the second ACL tear of his career. He initially thought it was a meniscus injury, but later thought that it could be a re-torn ACL after all. Berkman would have pondered retiring in that event, but the great news was that the “Big Puma” has only suffered a meniscus tear.
Lance Berkman also had a cartilage tear shaved down, and there was no damage on his ACL. Allen Craig is still a week away from returning from a hamstring injury, so young first baseman Matt Adams will be firmly entrenched in that role until then. Adams is a quality hitter in his own right, and the Cardinals are blessed with depth that is helping them to overcome Berkman’s severe injury.
The future Hall of Famer (seriously, he has a career 146 wRC+ with 60.5 WAR in total) was worth 5 WAR in a renaissance of a season for the Cardinals after a huge down year in 2010 (2.1 WAR). His disappointing 2010 season that saw him playing for a team other than the Houston Astros for the first time in his career wasn’t as bad as people think, because his 113 wRC+ was still decent.
Still, it was a disappointing year and the worst full season of his career. The previous season in 2009, Lance Berkman fell under 3 WAR (2.9 WAR) for the first time since his first full season in the Majors.
In 2011, the veteran slugger had a terrific 159 wRC+ and a .402 wOBA that nearly matches his career total of .403, albeit in a tougher environment for hitters. Despite some expectedly awful defense (-10 UZR), Berkman had the seventh best season of his career with a .301/.412/.547 triple slash.
The powerful 1B’s 31 homers constituted his first 30-homer season since blasting 34 in 2007, and he lowered his strikeout rate to 15.8%. ZiPS projected a 2.3 WAR season for Berkman in 377 plate appearances, and this was considered a low-ball of a projection for the 36-year-old as he was projected to be worth between 3.5 and 4 WAR by most.