Berkman, Myers may still have something

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
10:45
AM ET

Rob Carr/Getty ImagesLance Berkman mashes right-handed pitching. The Rangers rememeber that well.
Each week, ESPN Stats & Information looks at notable MLB offseason moves. This week's review focuses on Lance Berkman and Brett Myers.

Rangers reportedly agree to terms with Lance Berkman
Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan said his team was looking for a DH and Berkman would seem to fit the role well. He reportedly agreed to terms with the team on a one-year deal on Saturday.

A limited sampling shows that Berkman did handle the role well when asked to do so in the past.

Berkman was a .323 hitter with a .909 OPS and six home runs in 39 games (130 at-bats) as a designated hitter in interleague play for the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals, and a stint in the AL with the New York Yankees.

He was also 8-for-21 with a home run in six starts in that spot in the postseason, including the middle three games of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers.

Three other nuggets of note on Berkman:

1--ESPN Insider contributor Jason Martinez projects that the Rangers will usually hit Berkman fifth behind Adrian Beltre.

In 2011, his last healthy season, Berkman had his best year in the No. 5 spot, hitting .320 with a 1.013 OPS and 18 home runs in 81 games. He hit .276 with an .888 OPS and 13 home runs in 64 games in other spots in the order.

2--Berkman has historically shredded right-handed pitching. His 1.007 OPS against righties ranks third-best among active players, trailing only Jim Thome and Todd Helton. Berkman had a .998 OPS against righties in 2011.

3-- One thing that separates Berkman from his peers is his strike-zone judgment.

Over the past four seasons, he’s chased only 21 percent of pitches out of the strike zone (about one of every five), which ranks in the top five percent of major leaguers.

If a pitch is in the strike zone, Berkman will hack. Only 24 percent of the pitches Berkman took were called strikes, the 10th-best rate in baseball in that same span (minimum 1,000 plate appearances).
--Mark Simon


Indians sign Brett Myers, plan to move him back to rotation
Brett Myers signed with the Cleveland Indians this past week, where he'll be slotted into the rotation after spending last year in the bullpen for the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros.

Myers may not be an ace but he does give the Indians something they lacked last year: consistent innings. In his most recent season as a starter in 2011, Myers averaged 6.5 innings per start, tied for 11th in the NL. In 2010, he was even more durable, with the fifth-highest innings-per-start average (6.8).

The Indians got just 913 ⅔ innings from their rotation last year, ranking 27th in the majors. The only Indians pitcher last year to average at least six innings per start was Justin Masterson (6.1).

In 2010, Myers pitched at least six innings in each of his first 32 starts. The last Indians pitcher with a streak like that was Gaylord Perry, who had 33 straight starts of six-innings-or-more spanning the 1972-73 seasons.

Myers logged a 4.46 ERA in 2011 and a major issue was the 30 home runs he allowed. He gave up a homer every eight flyballs, matching his homer-to-flyball rate over the past four seasons, and a potentially troubling trend for him.

However, it's worth noting that Myers will be moving from hitter-friendly parks (Minute Maid and U.S. Cellular) to a pitcher-friendly park (Progressive Field) that ranked 20th in home run park factor in 2012. The 140 home runs hit in Progressive Field last season were third-fewest in any AL park.

-- Katie Sharp

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