Will Berkman's month rank as one of best ever?   

Updated: May 22, 2008, 10:57 AM ET

  • Comment
  • Email
  • Print
  • Share

The New York Yankees would like to see May end. So would the Seattle Mariners. Justin Verlander and Jeff Francis probably are looking forward to June.

Lance Berkman? He hopes this month goes on forever.

MORE BERKMAN

Lance Berkman is showing he's the king of swing, but he tells ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that he's worried it's going to end. Jerry Crasnick

Fantasy: Berkman's '07 was anomaly

Even after going 0-for-4 Monday night, the switch-hitting slugger is tearing up May to a tune of a .530 batting average. Since divisional play began in 1969, the highest batting average for one month, with a minimum of 75 at-bats, is the .512 Todd Helton recorded in May 2000.

Berkman doesn't have the luxury of hitting in Coors Field, but maybe he has learned to hit left-handers: He's hitting .432 against southpaws, a stat that is much better than his career mark of .276.

Will Berkman end up with one of the greatest months a hitter has had since divisional play began in 1969? Besides his .530 average, he has eight home runs, 19 RBIs, a .592 on-base percentage and 1.000 slugging percentage.

Let's take a look at some others, scrolling through the monthly splits available on baseball-reference.com. Note: This list is not meant to be comprehensive. Feel free to check out some others and add to the comments section below.

The record holders

Todd Helton, Rockies, May 2000: 11 HRs, 26 RBIs, 32 runs, .512 BA/.588 OBP/1.000 SLG
Helton ended May at .421, and though he fell to .370 in early August, another hot stretch propelled him to a .397 average as late as Aug. 28. He tailed off and finished at .372 with 42 home runs and 142 RBIs.

Sammy Sosa, Cubs, June 1998: 20 HRs, 40 RBIs, 25 runs, .298/.331/.842
Sammy Sosa, Cubs, August 2001: 17 HRs, 36 RBIs, 31 runs, .385/.469/.936

Sosa's 20 home runs in June had him chasing Mark McGwire in '98, and they still stand as the all-time record hit in one month. But his August 2001 actually was more impressive, thanks to a .385 average.

Ryan Howard, Phillies, August 2006: 14 HRs, 41 RBIs, 25 runs, .348/.464/.750
Howard's 41 RBIs set the record for one month's RBI total since divisional play began in 1969. How hard will it be to break Hack Wilson's season mark of 191 RBIs? A player who averages 30 RBIs a month still would end up short. Wilson had 53 RBIs in August during his record-breaking 1930 season with the Cubs.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, August 2004: 4 HRs, 15 RBIs, 21 runs, .463/.492/.636
When Ichiro rapped out a record 262 hits in '04, his best month came in August, when he had an amazing 56 hits. Ichiro has topped .400 in a month six times.

The .400 chasers

Rod Carew, Twins, June 1977: 3 HRs, 30 RBIs, 30 runs, .486/.538/.775
Amazingly, Carew drove in 30 runs despite hitting just three homers. He also hit seven doubles and eight triples in June, finishing the season with a .388 average.

George Brett, Royals, July 1980: 3 HRs, 25 RBIs, 18 runs, .494/.541/.812
George Brett, Royals, August 1980: 6 HRs, 30 RBIs, 26 runs, .430/.489/.645

Brett hit .390 in 1980, but how hot was he? Including a 17-for-36 mark in June (he missed time with injuries), he hit .459 from June through August.

John Olerud, Blue Jays, June 1993: 5 HRs, 30 RBIs, 17 runs, .427/.525/.760
Olerud also hit .450 in April and was still hitting .400 on Aug. 2 before he dropped to .363.

Tony Gwynn, Padres, June 1987: 1 HR, 16 RBIs, 22 runs, .473/.524/.667
How hard is it to hit .400? Gwynn did it in a month just 10 times in his career (minimum 75 at-bats), peaking at .473 in June 1987. In 1994, when he was hitting .394 when the strike hit, his monthly averages went .395, .392, .387, .370, .475 (in 10 games in August).

BEST SINCE 1969

Since divisional play began in 1969, here are the best totals for one month:

Batting average (min. 75 at-bats)
Todd Helton, Rockies, May 2000: .512
Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers, June 2004: .500
George Brett, Royas, July 1980: .494
Rod Carew, Twins, June 1977: .486

Home runs
Sammy Sosa, Cubs, June 1998: 20
Albert Belle, Indians, Sept. 1995: 17
Sammy Sosa, Cus, August 2001: 17
Barry Bonds, Giants, May 2001: 17
Mark McGwire, Cardinals, July 1999: 16
Albert Belle, White Sox, July 1998: 16
Mark McGwire, Cardinals, May 1998: 16

Runs batted in
Ryan Howard, Phillies, August 2006: 41
Ryan Klesko, Padres, May 2001: 40
Sammy Sosa, Cubs, June 1998: 40
Jim Thome, Indians, July 2001: 39
Rafael Palmeiro, Rangers, August 1999: 39
Dante Bichette, Rockies, June 1996: 39
Cecil Cooper, Brewers, July 1983: 39
--Elias Sports Bureau

Trent McCotter of SABR also passes along a few old-timers:

Sam Thompson, Phillies, August 1894: 59 hits, 61 RBIs (MLB record), .440 average, 33 runs

Billy Hamilton, Phillies, August 1894: 51 runs (MLB record), 67 hits (MLB record), .515 average, 30 SBs

Ty Cobb, Tigers, July 1912: 67 hits (MLB record), 34 runs, .528 average (believed to be MLB record), .811 slugging

Babe Ruth, Yankees, July 1920: 45 runs, 44 hits, 13 HRs, 32 RBIs, 43 BBs, .970 slugging

Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals, July 1923: 61 hits, 39 RBIs, .488 average, .824 slugging

Ted Williams, Red Sox, August 1941: 31 runs, 43 hits, 10 HRs, 50 BBs, 26 RBIs, .402 average, .592 OBP

The sluggers

Mark McGwire, Cardinals, May 1998: 16 HRs, 32 RBIs, 25 runs, .326/.513/.907
After a monster May, Big Mac had us believing he would catch Roger Maris.

Reggie Jackson, A's, June 1969: 14 HRs, 37 RBIs, 28 runs, .365/.464/.875
Jackson had 37 homers in 91 games at the All-Star break but hit just 10 in the second half.

Willie Stargell, Pirates, June 1971: 11 HRs, 36 RBIs, 24 runs, .333/.441/.752
How many home runs would Pops have hit playing in the high-octane offense of the late '90s?

Albert Belle, Indians, September 1995: 17 HR, 32 RBIs, 31 runs, .313/.420/.929
Albert Belle, White Sox, July 1998: 16 HRs, 32 RBIs, 24 runs, .406/.455/.941

Belle's 17 home runs in September are tied for third-most in any one month (Rudy York had 18 in August 1937), but his July '98 with the White Sox may have been even more impressive.

Jim Thome, Indians, June 1996: 11 HRs, 32 RBIs, 27 runs, .407/.538/.813
Jim Thome, Indians, July 2001: 12 HRs, 39 RBIs, 22 runs, .381/.516/.804

Few hitters can get on a tear like Thome, and he's had some monster months in which he's combined power and average. He also hit 15 home runs in June 2004 with the Phillies.

Juan Gonzalez, Rangers, July 1996: 15 HRs, 38 RBIs, 22 runs, .407/.472/.917
Gonzalez won the AL MVP award in '96, when he averaged more than an RBI per game (134 games, 144 RBIs).

Luis Gonzalez, Diamondbacks, June 2001: 12 HRs, 35 RBIs, 26 runs, .417/.496/.854
One of the great fluke seasons of all time, Gonzalez rode a 13-homer April and big June to a 57-homer season. His second-highest home run total is 31.

All-around studs

Fred Lynn, Red Sox, August 1979: 10 HRs, 25 RBIs, 25 runs, .416/.505/.820
Lynn was AL MVP as a rookie in 1975 but he was never hotter than a two-month stretch in '79, when he hit .395 in July and .416 in August.

Frank Thomas, White Sox, May 1994: 12 HRs, 28 RBIs, 39 runs, .452/.593/.988
There's a reason he picked up one of the great nicknames of recent years: The Big Hurt.

Jeff Bagwell, Astros, July 1994: 11 HRs, 29 RBIs, 27 runs, .409/./509/.875
Jeff Bagwell, Astros, August 2000: 12 HRs, 34 RBIs, 31 runs, .380/.479/.810

His 152 runs scored in 2000 are the most since 1936.

Edgar Martinez, Mariners, August 1995: 9 HRs, 33 RBIs, 31 runs, .398/.560/.786
Edgar Martinez, Mariners, May 2000: 10 HRs, 32 RBIs, 24 runs, .441/.508/.814

With Ken Griffey Jr. injured during much of 1995, Martinez carried the Mariners to their first playoff berth. He also hit .402 with 32 RBIs in June that season.

Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners, July 1996: 11 HRs, 30 RBIs, 18 runs, .361/.432/.861
What's amazing is that he did this in just 18 games after missing the first half of the month with a broken bone in his hand.

Larry Walker, Rockies, April 1997: 11 HRs, 29 RBIs, 29 runs, .456/.538/.911
Not bad for 23 games.

Albert Pujols, Cardinals, April 2006: 14 HRs, 32 RBIs, 27 runs, .346/.509/.914
Oh, yeah, he's hitting .364 so far this season.

RBI machines

George Foster, Reds, June 1977: 9 HRs, 38 RBIs, 30 runs, .333/.394/.640
Foster's 52 home runs in '77 were the most between 1965 (when Willie Mays hit 52) and 1996 (when McGwire hit 52).

Jim Rice, Red Sox, August 1978: 12 HRs, 33 RBIs, 27 runs, .379/.436/.750
Rice finished with 46 home runs and 139 RBIs in '78 -- thanks to a little home-field mastery, as he hit .361 at Fenway but just .269 on the road.

Don Mattingly, Yankees, August 1985: 11 HRs, 26 RBIs, 28 runs, .390/.447/.737
It helps having Rickey Henderson as a leadoff hitter: Donnie Baseball drove in 37 runs in September (although he hit a more pedestrian .328).

Manny Ramirez, Indians, May 1999: 7 HRs, 33 RBIs, 24 runs, .364/.467/.636
The closest anyone has come to Hack Wilson in the past 50 years: Ramirez drove in 165 runs in 147 games, which prorates to 182 if he had played 162 games. His RBI totals by month: 30, 33, 20 (injured), 25, 27, 30.

David Ortiz, Red Sox, July 2006: 14 HRs, 35 RBIs, 26 runs, .339/.429/.798
Here's guessing a few of those ribbies were clutch.

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, April 2007: 14 HRs, 34 RBIs, 27 runs, .355/.415/.882
Remember last April? A-Rod compiled those numbers in just 23 games. Imagine if he had been consistent: He hit .402 in June with 34 RBIs but just .235 in May and .206 in July. He also hit 15 home runs for the Rangers in August 2003 and .435 for the Mariners in August 1996.

Old-timers' corner

Just for the fun of it, we looked up a few pre-1969 guys. (Baseball-reference.com has monthly splits dating back to 1956.)

Mickey Mantle, Yankees, May 1956: 16 HRs, 35 RBIs, 35 runs, .414/.507/.879
Hank Aaron, Braves, July 1956: 8 HRs, 28 RBIs, 30 runs, .424/.465/.771
Mickey Mantle, Yankees, June 1957: 11 HRs, 30 RBIs, 30 runs, .419/.551/.838
Ted Williams, Red Sox, July 1957: 9 HRs, 21 RBIs, 21 runs, .440/.579/.893
Norm Cash, Tigers, June 1961: 14 HRs, 25 RBIs, 25 runs, .416/.512/.901
Frank Robinson, Reds, July 1961: 13 HRs, 34 RBIs, 31 runs, .409/.466/.887
Willie Mays, Giants, August 1965: 17 HRs, 29 RBIs, 32 runs, .363/.446/.841
Roberto Clemente, Pirates, May 1967: 9 HRs, 29 RBIs, 25 runs, .400/.468/.718
Carl Yastrzemski, Red Sox, September 1967: 9 HRs, 26 RBIs, 22 runs, .417/.504/.760 (includes one October game)

Barry Bonds' corner
Finally, a guy who deserves his own section. A few of Barry Bonds' best months:

September 1992: 11 HRs, 27 RBIs, 30 runs, .392/.537/.833 (includes three October games)
April 1993: 7 HRs, 25 RBIs, 23 runs, .431/.553/.889
August 1998: 14 HRs, 28 RBIs, 30 runs, .314/.418/.784
May 2001: 17 HRs, 30 RBIs, 28 runs, .369/.547/1.036
August 2002: 11 HRs, 25 RBIs, 24 runs, .447/.621/.961
July 2003: 11 HRs, 21 RBIs, 25 runs, .415/.581/1.000
April 2004: 10 HRs, 22 RBIs, 21 runs, .472/.696/1.132

Bonds' final line for the entire 2004 season: .362/.609/.812. Berkman is beating that right now … but the month is not yet over.

David Schoenfield once hit two home runs back in June of 1978, although it's possible one of those was actually an error on the outfielder.


Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?