25. “Big Puma” Lance Berkman
Lance Berkman experienced a successful MLB career from 1999 to 2013, spending 11 years with the Houston Astros.
Berkman was an immediate fan favorite in Houston when he was selected with the 16th overall pick in the 1997 draft. He had been a college star at Rice University, located just minutes away from the Astros’ home stadium, and established himself as a versatile offensive threat from Day 1.
Berkman hit .297 with 21 home runs and 67 RBIs in 2000 during his rookie campaign, and would make the All-Star Game the following two seasons. By 2006 he had developed a reputation as one of the of the best switch-hitters in baseball. He had also been labeled with an unfortunate nickname, however.
The Astros outfielder had come to be known as “Fat Elvis” due to a perceived lack of athleticism. Berkman took exception of this, and made the case for a new nickname while speaking to Lance Zierlein and John Granato on the radio in Houston.
When asked what he preferred, Berkman replied with the following, per ESPN:
"“‘Big Puma,’ because pumas are sleek, fast, powerful and secretive.”"
While he may have not looked the part, Berkman was a surprisingly athletic player that always had the potential to be a threat on the base paths. Even at 32-years old in 2008, he managed to steal a career-high 18 bases.
Berkman was traded to the New York Yankees in the 2010, and would sign with the St. Louis Cardinals the following offseason. He won a World Series with St. Louis in 2011 before finishing his career with the Texas Rangers.
Next: 24. Junior