Big Puma feasted on National League (and Texas Rangers) pitching in May. Now he's being recognized for it.
Lance Berkman, who changed his nickname from "Fat Elvis" to the aforementioned sleeker moniker two years ago, was named the "Sharp Presents the National League Player of the Month" on Monday for the second time in his career.
The switch-hitter batted a Major League-best .471 (49-for-104) with nine home runs, 11 doubles, a triple, 22 RBIs and 31 runs scored in May. Of his 16 multi-hit games, May 6 vs. Washington was particularly impressive. Berkman racked up a career-high five hits and scored four times.
Berkman earned Player of the Week honors for May 5-11, when he went .682 (15-for-22) in the midst of a 17-game hitting streak. He was also named NL Player of the Month in May 2004.
"I didn't know he was the greatest hitter in the history of baseball until this guy showed up for the last month or so," Astros general manager Ed Wade said after Berkman's hitting streak reached 17 games. "It's like watching a guy play big league baseball, only he's playing tee ball. That's how easy he's making it. You know how difficult this game is, and he's simplified it to the 'nth degree."
Berkman ranks in the top three in the NL in batting average (.385), home runs (17), RBIs (47) and runs (57) on the season. He has 10 stolen bases as well.
Only the hottest team in baseball cooled Berkman in May. Prior to a series at Houston, Cubs closer Kerry Wood said just walking the first baseman might be the best plan of attack. Somehow, the Cubs held Berkman to one hit in 10 at-bats in the three-game set, the only May series in which Berkman did not record an extra-base hit.
Dan Uggla, Ryan Braun, Adam Dunn, Chipper Jones, Ryan Ludwick, Albert Pujols and Alfonso Soriano also received votes. Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley took home NL Player of the Month honors in April.
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.