Lance Berkman is the Big Puma and if you get in his way like Barry Zito did last night, he will pounce on you and bite your neck. Berkman went 3-for-4 with a two-run ding dong off Zito in leading his Astros to a 7-3 win over the Giants. He's actually hitting over .500 in the past 15 games, bringing the Houston Astros within 1.5 games of the first place Cubs. He's also gone and won his second Player of the Week award in the past three weeks. Lance Berkman is hitting so goddamned hot, he may have broken Bill James' thermometer:
Bill James, the statistical expert/author, has a "Who is hot?" statistic, which is expressed in degrees temperature. 72 degrees, or "room temperature," is normal. Each hitter starts the season at 72 degrees and degrees are added/subtracted based on each plate appearance. All major batting outcomes are assigned a certain number of positive and negative points.
Here is Bill James' current listing of hitters:Lance Berkman 123°
Mike Lowell 98°
Clint Barmes 97°
Joey Votto 95°
Jason Bay 93°
Berkman is so hot, he's got people whispering about the Triple Crown. He leads the NL in RBI and is second in batting average (.393) behind Chipper Jones (.406) and is tied in ding dongs (13) with Chase Utley. More importantly than the Triple Crown, though: he may have already won the Walkoff Walk NL Player of the Month for May.
If you're wondering where the Big Puma moniker came from, turns out Berkman gave it to himself after disliking the nickname he earned from his teammates: Fat Elvis.