The way Lance Berkman has been swinging the bat lately has allowed the Astros slugger to accomplish feats that few others have been able to achieve. On Monday, Berkman was named the National League Player of the Week for the period ending May 11. The 32-year-old led the Majors with a gaudy .682 (15-for-22) batting average and a 1.136 slugging percentage on his way to winning the weekly honors for the second time this season and fourth in his career. Berkman is the only player so far in 2008 to win the award twice. The Astros first baseman also led the Majors over the last week with 10 runs scored, 15 hits and a .741 on-base percentage. His four doubles tied for the Major League lead. As well, Berkman recorded five consecutive multi-hit performances.
Even more impressive is that with his double midway through Saturday's game against the Dodgers, Berkman became only the second player in the last 50 years to have collected 19 hits in 25 at-bats, according to Trent McCotter of the Society for American Baseball Research. St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols did the same from May 30-June 7, 2003. "It doesn't surprise me," manager Cecil Cooper said. "Lance has had just an outstanding streak here. Hopefully it will continue -- just an outstanding performance this year." Cooper was quick to point out that Berkman's game isn't one-sided, either. "We talked so much about his offense," Cooper said. "Heck, his defense has been as good as any. Probably better than most. He's made some sparkling plays, picked a lot of balls out of the dirt. Balls that could have been base hits in the hole. And his baserunning has been superb. He's been the complete player." Entering Monday's games and following his monster offensive showing last week, Berkman leads the NL in runs scored (40), RBIs (36) and doubles (15). His 12 home runs and .382 batting average both rank second in the league. "It's nice," he said. "If it was ever going to happen where you won two in the same year, it's likely they would be pretty close together because you get hot and you maintain it for a couple weeks. I'm sure it's fairly rare. I'm honored and I'll try to keep going as long as I can with it." While many players don't like to talk about what-ifs, Berkman was very up front when asked if he'd thought about the National League Most Valuable Player Award. "I'd love to win the MVP," he said. "There's so many guys ... as long as Albert Pujols is in the league, you're behind the eight-ball. To me, he's the best in the game. "You'd have to do something really, really special and catch him kind of like a year he had last year. He's not likely to do it again and even last year he could have won the MVP. I'd love to win it but I don't know if it's possible." By winning Player of the Week honors, Berkman edged out teammate Carlos Lee, who hit .375 last week with three doubles and nine RBIs. St. Louis' Ryan Ludwick (.478, four home runs, nine RBIs), Colorado's Clint Barmes (.556, three doubles, two RBIs) and Florida's Dan Uggla (.350, four homers, eight RBIs) were also candidates. Bank of America, the official bank of Major League Baseball, is the presenting sponsor of the NL and American League Player of the Week Awards, which reflect Bank of America's long-standing tradition of promoting and recognizing higher standards of accomplishment. Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis won this week's AL award. Tourneau, the world's largest watch store, will award Berkman with a luxury Swiss timepiece, suitably engraved, in recognition of his accomplishments as Bank of America Presents the NL Player of the Week.
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.