Astros’ best of the best: Let the second base debate begin


The Best of the Best series continue today with a conundrum of sorts. Enjoy the conversation and debate, but please remember to not just ahead. Here are the best we’ve already discussed:

Today: Second base.

Yes, I know that Jose Altuve just won an MVP. Yes, I am aware that he has a few batting titles under his belt. Yes, I’ve also been told that he’s led the league in hits four times and is quickly becoming the face of the Astros’ organization after a World Series win.

Yes, I know that Biggio never won a World Series, had 200 hits only once, was an All Star seven times (Altuve only 5). I also know he has a few points on his resume that Altuve does not, namely 3,000 hits and a place in the Hall of Fame.

Altuve has had better seasons, even in his shorter career. He has a better eye at the plate than Biggio (and that’s saying a lot). And he can challenge Biggio in the eyes of fans and with that infectious smile.

And, yes, you can argue that Altuve will one day ascend to the perch as the greatest second baseman in Astros’ history. But, today, in a snapshot in time in January 2018, that place goes to Biggio.

And, I thought at one point in time, Houston would never see a better second baseman than Bill Doran.

Here’s my list of the best second basemen in Astros’ history.

  1. Craig Biggio. 1988-2007. He’s in the top 3 on most every important stat list, good or bad, in Astros’ history. He’s played in more games (2,850), had more at bats (10,876), scored more runs (1,844), had more hits (3,060), doubles (668), total bases (4,711), strikeouts (1,753), extra base hits (1,014), singles (2,046) and, of course, HBP (265) than any other player in history. He’s second in RBI, walks and stolen bases. Quite the resume, warranting his top spot as the best all-time second baseman (to date) in Astros’ history.
  2. Jose Altuve. 2011-present. Yes, Altuve is beginning to crash Biggio’s party with his All Star selections, hit parade and batting titles. But if he retired or was traded today, he would still be #2 all time. If you want to compare Biggio’s first six seasons with Altuve’s first six, yes, Altuve is clearly in control. If he maintains or evens comes close to spending 12-15 seasons in the majors, he’ll surpass Biggio at his current pace. The next question is this: How would you rate Altuve vs. Biggio if he is traded or leaves as a free agent in a few years?
  3. Joe Morgan. 1963-71. Most people don’t realize that Morgan actually spent more time in a Houston uniform (10) than that of any other team, including the Reds. And, he actually played more games at second than has Altuve (thus far). Now, imagine if Morgan had played most of and finished his career in Houston. What a discussion this might have been then! You may be surprised to learn that Morgan is actually on many of the top 10 lists of all-time Astros’ offensive leaders, including runs scored (597, 10th), triples (63, 2nd), OBP (.374, 6th), walks (678, 6th) and stolen bases (219, 5th).
  4. Bill Doran. 1982-1990. Doran was the prototype second baseman: tough, hard-playing and turning in dirty jersies regularly. He didn’t win an MVP and played in the Ryan Sandberg era so there were no All Star appearances. He was obviously very serviceable, but doesn’t rank with three hall of fame second basemen.
  5. Jeff Kent. 2003-04. Yes, Kent spent only two seasons in Houston, but he had a big impact. And, yes, he forced Biggio into the outfield for a couple of seasons. While he spent only two seasons in an Astros’ uni, he did hit 49 home runs with 200 RBI while slashing .293/.350/.521 with an .880 OPS. You can argue that another player more aptly fits here and I’ll let you make that argument.

Honorable mention: Tommy Helms, Casey Candaele, Jeff Keppinger and a tip of the hat to Nellie Fox.

Questions…

  • Did you realize Morgan had those numbers in Houston?
  • Is Altuve already the best second baseman in Astros’ history?
  • Should Morgan actually be ahead of Altuve at this point since he played more games at 2B in Houston?
  • What makes Biggio better than Altuve? Or vice versa?
Advertisements

42 comments on “Astros’ best of the best: Let the second base debate begin

  1. This is a heck of a topic Chip – so many facets to the arguments.
    – Let’s say you were playing all summer down at the sandlot. When the kids gathered together, who would you pick first for your team. Chances are it would be Altuve, though there could be an argument that you would take the bigger power bat of Kent. (Though Altuve’s power bat is on the rise).
    – But this is based on full career as an Astro, so Biggio still has the mantle. Lets face it, Biggio is in the Hall of Fame more for quantity than quality. His quality was very good, but not excellent. Altuve has been excellent, but will he sustain? And will he stay here?
    – I’ll throw this out there. If Joe Morgan plays his whole career with the Astros he is not a slam dunk Hall of Famer. Playing in the Astrodome his numbers would have taken a hit. Playing for the Astros he likely would not have two MVPs. And not having the Big Red Machine around him his numbers would have taken another hit. He would have been very good playing out of the spotlight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a fabulous comment. You make some very valid points and I cannot disagree.
      Biggio has the numbers right now. I am hoping that Altuve will stick around long enough to take this #1 spot away.
      These two players are so close in quality. It’s really amazing we have been able to enjoy them both as Astros.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The other thing that can factor into this particular discussion is if we are strictly talking 2nd base, Biggio played a little more than the equivalent of 12 seasons at 2B with the time he spent at C and the OF. Jose is already up to 6+ seasons equivalent at 2B.

        On a side note I was looking at Morgan’s two MVP seasons at Cincy.
        1975 – 107 runs / 17 HRs/ 94 RBIs / 67 SBs / .327 BA / .466 OBP / .974 OPS
        1976 – 113 runs / 27 HRs / 111 RBIs / 60 SBs / .320/.444/1.030

        Man those are some numbers especially the SBs at the age of 31 and 32.
        It undoubtedly helped him that he was playing with Hall of Famers Bench and Perez, Asterisk H of F Pete Rose, and other big time players like Concepcion, Griffey, and Foster. But still… power and speed and a great batting eye for taking walks, etc.

        Like

  2. If Bill Doran had played ten years later I think he’s tops on the list. He was the most complete player you listed and would have benefited greatly from improved training techniques and pharmaceutical optimization.

    Altuve gets the nod from me and the only thing that makes it close is that Biggio played all those years in the dome. It helped his defense, but probably stole some offense from him. Frankly, he may have benefited from the turf turning a few more singles into doubles those years though.

    Joe Morgan gets penalized in my rankings for playing for Cincinnati. Hey, I know it’s not his fault! If Altuve signs with the Yankees in a few years he drops too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The difference being that Morgan did not choose to go to Cincy, whereas Altuve will be making a conscious choice to leave (if he does).

      Like

  3. The best is 1 and 1A. I have to move Morgan down the list, not because of his play in Houston, but his later years with “the jerk factor.” If Biggio or Altuve is playing 2B for you any day, that spot is covered. And Nellie Fox is a White Sox.

    Just a note to comment on the last post from DanP. I went back and read the old post and comments (which can be labeled “I Am Tim, and I have an Opinion.” Today, those comments are so old, they could be cave paintings. So glad we are not having those discussions in 2018. And YES, once again, I was correct 100% on everything I said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can confirm you were correct on everything you said in that post. You must have been marooned on a deserted island in the pacific that day.
      However, if Dan would get rid of the archives, we could all have been 100% correct every day!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. * Did not comprehend Morgan’s numbers.
    * Altuve already best, not necessarily because of second base skills but overall achievements.
    * Do not place Morgan ahead.
    * Believe Altuve tops Biggio, again overall achievements. Much as I love Craig, one of his top stats was “most hit by balls,” which made me suspicious. Also, Craig tended to talk a lot about his abilities and “playing the game the right way.” If you notice, ‘Tuve talks less about himself, more about others, including how impressed he was with Aaron Judge’s humility.
    * Bill Doran will always have a special place in my heart. He played hard and kept his head down. He communicated to me without talking.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. As between Biggio and Altuve, it’s kind of like asking which was greater: Rodgers Horsbey or Rod Carew? Micky Mantle or Roberto Clemente? Hank Aaron or Willie Mays? Ted Williams or Honus Wagner?

    Both the Bidge and ‘Tuve are very, very special. Im just glad they both wore the Astro blue and orange – and I hope to never see ‘Tuve in anything else.

    Like

  6. I give Biggio extra points for versatility. As Dan mentioned ha had almost 800 games at other positions. But for pure quality and production, gotta go with Altuve. He has more WAR thru first 7 seasons than Biggio did. Better playoff numbers. Plus, you gotta love his back story.

    Like

  7. Thanks to Mr. Bill and old pro – here is your Amalfitano song – by way of Ol’ Blue Eyes….

    Now this could only happen to a guy like Joe
    And only happen in a town like “H”
    So Joe says to each of you in the know
    As the team comes down from the biggest stage

    This is Joe’s kind of name, Amalfitano is
    And my kind of name, Amalfitano is
    My kind of people too
    People like Bob Bruce

    And each time I roam, Amalfitano is
    Throwing me out at home, Amalfitano is
    Why I just grin like a clown
    I just met Pidge Browne

    Joe’s kind of name, Amalfitano is
    My kind of name, Amalfitano is
    My kind of cowboy wrangler
    Just like Al Spangler

    And each time I leave, Amalfitano is
    His defense like a sieve, Amalfitano is
    The old Gulf Building, Amalfitano is
    The old Colt Stadium, Amalfitano is
    One player that will never know fame
    It’s my kind of name

    Liked by 2 people

  8. How likely are the following possible acquisitions this Winter/Spring:

    1. Free agent outfielder Carlos Gonzales;
    2. Free agent starter Yu Darvish;
    3. Free agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy;
    4. Christian Yelich [would require a trade with Marlins];
    5. J.T. Realmuto [would require a trade with Marlins];
    6. Other?

    Like

  9. * The Astros had 8 players participate in the WBC last year. They will not have that distraction this year.
    * The Astros had to work through lots of problems with shortfalls in their new spring training complex last year. Those mess ups will be fixed this year.
    * Yuli Gurriel will be a better fielding first baseman this season after playing over there for the first time last season.
    *Alex Bregman will be a better fielding third baseman after playing over there for a whole year.
    * George Springer is getting married today.
    *Brad Peacock knows he has a job this season.
    *Compare the Astros starting pitchers for 2018 compared to this time in 2017.
    * Scott Boras referred to the Astros as “the Monster” that so many teams seem to not be willing to take on this coming season.
    *Josh Reddick has a full season under his belt playing in MMP.
    * Brian McCann loves the Astros and the city and would like to play there for a few more seasons.
    * The Round Rock Express, are beginning the final year of their current contract with the Texas Rangers as their AAA affiliate.
    * Constuction of the new ballpark in downtown Fayettevile NC is under way and has started a chain of rebuilding in that area in anticipation of the arrival of the Astros new High A affiliate in 2019. That affiliate is temporarily located in Buies Creek and is fully owned by the Astros, who have a 30-year contract with Fayetteville.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a ton of good news op. Though are you sure that Boras didn’t mean the Astros are the Monster that won it all without a bunch of 6 year $150 million contracts….

      Like

      • I’m still leery of Boras though. He’s adding Astros’ clients at an alarming rate and Luhnow is probably going to get more grey hair between now and 2020 than he would have otherwise. Since there are varying shades of grey, perhaps we’ll just call it Boras Grey! #staytuned

        Like

      • Boras was talking about the slow pace of the hot stove season and was dismayed that teams seem to be resolved to the fact that the Astros are the monster that they are not wanting to spend money to fight against.
        That is what I gather from his comment.

        Like

      • Indeed, OP…reading around a bit, it does seem that other teams are a bit hesitant, leaving fewer teams to bid on free agents this year. There is also a hesitancy to jump in this off season if the team figures 2018 isn’t their year because of the massive list of free agents who’ll be available in just another 10 months such as Harper, Heyward, McCutcheon, not to mention Keuchel and Margo.

        Like

      • Reading this article …..
        https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/scott-boras-slow-free-agent-market-rumors.html
        It looks like Boras trusts that market forces – the amount of money available to the teams, which keeps rising, and the desire to actually compete with the Astros is going to eventually bring in the contracts at what he expects.
        I agree with Chip that next year’s free agent market may be casting a shadow on this season’s spending. I also would not be surprised that a factor is the team’s looking at how the Astros are where they are without diving into long term huge contracts. They have to be thinking – should I spend a lot or spend smarter?

        Like

      • I’m sure a few teams will take a pass on picking up guys to big FA contracts now, based on what the Astros already have to work with. Clubs might wait until the break and see where they stand, see what kind of injuries we’ve had, see how we’re dealing with the WS hangover. If the market remains quiet now, it could bust out come summer.

        Like

  10. Dan, inevitably, we are going to have to answer that same question, and very soon. Are we going to spend a lot of money on several guys to long, long deals, or are we going all out to win in 2018 and 2019, but one by one, let the 200 milllion dollar contracts go to other teams? That’s Altuve money, Correa money, maybe even George money. And Keuchel is going to get 100 plus million from someone. Part of me is thinking that Luhnow won’t even try to outbid the biggest spenders, even to hold on to Altuve or Correa.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dave, My gut is that they will not sign them all, but they will target some. If I was going to guess I would think they would target Altuve and Correa.
      But of course they probably have a number, a value that they think these guys are worth and maybe they won’t go above that number.

      Like

    • Before last year I’d have agreed. I however think Crane is enjoying being the owner of the world champions and the team many are expecting to be dominant, and will continue to open up his wallet to ensure that happens. This brought in a lot of revenue, and if we repeat this year it pretty much guarantees it.

      This is a crucial year for Dallas. If he’s injured another year his value dips, so expect him to go balls to the wall. If he’s just average I expect him to go at the break for whatever need we may have. I think it also depends on his attitude. If he starts thinking he’s Johnny Big time, well….

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s