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Cardinals outfielder Berkman named NL Comeback Player of the Year

It likely comes as no surprise to Cardinals fans. But at least now it's official: Lance Berkman is the National League's comeback player of the year.

The slugging switch hitter batted .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs while moving back to the outfield after signing with St. Louis over the off-season. It was the first time he hit anywhere close to .300 since 2008 and the first time he cracked more than 30 home runs since 2007.

He arrived at spring training in the best shape he'd been in for years -- to the dismay of Astros broadcaster Milo Hamilton -- and was the most valuable player of the Cardinals for more than the first half of the season before Albert Pujols got hot after the All-Star Break and helped carry a larger share of the load.

Berkman played primarily as an outfielder for the first time since 2004. But while some questioned his ability to even be competent at the position, he actually played quite well defensively. He wasn't going to make anyone forget about Roberto Clemente. But he caught the balls he should have and displayed a capable throwing arm. Berkman said playing in the outfield was actually easier on his knees because it didn't require the quick lateral movements you have to make to play first base.

Hopefully Berkman can keep up the resurgence next season. He recently signed a one-year contract to play for the Cardinals in 2012.