Sunday, September 07, 2008
Joe Posnanski On The Brief, Wondrous Life Of Angel Berroa
The Royals started that year 16-3, and Berroa had his early ups and downs. He was hitting .251 on June 1st, with little power and he was making a lot of errors. Still, there was something likable about the guy and the energetic way he played. Hey, I’ve always understood why people like players like, say, David Eckstein. True, Eckstein was always wildly overrated — he’s like a how-to manual for how to overrate someone by lavishing him with screams of the underrated — and now he just plain sucks (last year he punched up an 86 OPS+ and was a -14 defensive shortstop — that’s flat unplayable. He’s even worse this year). But even though the Eckstein stuff can get annoying, I would hope there would always be room in the game for cheering someone who is clearly squeezing out all the juice of talent in his body.
That was Berroa. He was diving for every up-the-middle grounder, stretching every hard-hit ball into the hole, he was doing all he could at the plate (meaning he was swinging at more or less every pitch), he was running hard all the time, high energy, no, it wasn’t always reflecting in the numbers, but he represented something new in Kansas City, or better yet something old, a throwback to the Royals of the late 1970s and early 1980s, when you knew that Royals team would come after you.
Then Berroa suddenly got hot, he hit .422 with four homers the next two weeks, and he stayed pretty hot the rest of the year, he popped some home runs, he stretched singles into doubles, he stretched doubles into triples, he stole bases without getting caught much, he made some spectacular defensive plays, it was so much fun to watch.